Quantifying key elements of hospice care at primary care network level enables more targeted and clear discussions within the emerging Integrated Care Systems. Population health management creates a prime opportunity for hospices, particularly combining specialist care with community development activities. The combination of these factors creates possibly one of the best opportunities for hospices to engage and tackle health inequalities relating to access to palliative care.
One of the concerns regarding widening access is the strain on hospice resources. This was cited as one of the main barriers to developing services for people with dementia (Hodges, 2019). The first phase of the development of a Specialist Palliative Care Modelling tool (Hodges, 2021) is complete. Phase 2 is using a variety of demographic and socio-economic data sets that can be applied to the tool to attempt to quantify the resources required to widen access. Research by Sleeman et al (2016) and Tobin et al (2021) outlines the challenges of the inequality of access to hospice care. Combining this knowledge with local data from the Indices of Multiple Deprivation, public health data and local intelligence should start to create the ability to weight the demand for hospice care depending on key data sets. Working with a range of healthcare professionals this next phase of development will start to contribute to commissioning discussions by taking into account unmet need, particularly in relation to seldom heard communities. Once quantified, discussions regarding models of care, integration with other services and the best way of supporting a variety of different groups of people can take place in a more insightful way. The tool itself is useful as part of the development of services but, with the Phase 2 development, should always be used alongside the views of people who may wish to access services.
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