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P38 The UK square table programme – an engagement tool for hospices
  1. Barbara Gelb
  1. Together for Short Lives, Bristol, UK


Introduction During 2010-11, 41 Square Table events held across the UK. More than 1,500 people took part, including families of children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions, young adults who have grown up using children’s palliative care services, health, social care and education professionals as well as other community leaders.

Aims The Square Table programme aimed to:

  • Deepen understanding of children’s palliative care within communities.

  • Act as a catalyst for communities to work better together to meet the needs of children and families.

  • Stimulate children’s hospices and other providers to develop their services.

Methods and results The Square Table is a structured discussion, where all sides of the table are the same length to symbolise all views as equal in merit. Most were hosted by children’s hospices, enabling a better understanding of the needs of users and reach out into their communities.

There were some common themes which emerged:

  1. Low awareness has a negative impact on access to services.

  2. Greater coordination of services and partnerships is needed at all levels.

  3. Key working is seen by families as a necessity for helping navigate a complex system.

  4. Serious concerns about support for young people making the transition to adulthood.

  5. The future sustainability of services is a concern, particularly in the context of a fragile economy.

Follow up Progress has been made by services since the programme, particularly in

  • Widening family support services

  • Improving partnership working and collaboration with the statutory sector

  • Developing new services

  • Improving communication

Conclusion The Square Table concept is a valuable tool for hospices to engage more effectively with communities and in service development, especially in response to the Commission into the Future of Hospice Care.

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