Background Communities play an integral role in developing social networks of care to support people experiencing dying, death and loss. Built upon a public health model, the hospice strategy strives to create a partnership between the clinical services it provides and the communities it serves.
Aim Hospices are the experts in dying, death and loss. The hospice’s aim is to share these skills more widely via a compassionate communities strategy with three inter-dependent workstreams: (1) Clinical: change organisational culture and align clinical practice with compassionate community. (2) Hospice-led: pump prime community activity with the aim of handing over. (3) Community development: work alongside groups and organisations to find out what’s strong and then co-produce activity that will empower the community to feel more comfortable around dying, death and loss.
Method Securing funding to extend existing community volunteering projects and pump prime hospice-led community based informal activity. Internal stakeholder engagement and identification of internal assets. External stakeholder engagement. Experimenting – initiating projects and seeing what happens. Compassionate Employers – testing ourselves against a ‘standard’.
Results Early stages so data is not yet available but income generating activities are more integrated in the hospice’s work:
Shops – space to enable the community to connect to the hospice and with each other.
Lottery – provide social interaction and signpost people back to the community.
Fundraisers – community connectors exploring the concept of compassionate fundraising.
Conclusions Building social networks of care that empower people to support each other, break down barriers and build resilience is long term. Working out of an organisation provides a foundation but it can be difficult to align it with traditional models of hospice care. Frameworks, pathways and outcome measurement are important for services, but not more important than social relationships and informal networks of support.
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