Background In 2010 50% of the hospice community nursing team's caseload were living alone and/or cared for by relatives, people were exhibiting needs that were not met by a clinically driven service.
Purpose Hospice Neighbours is a largely volunteer led project which aims to enable communities to support those affected by life limiting illness in their own environment. The scheme has a catalytic intent supporting those it works with to identify, develop and enhance their social capital, this being recognised as an integral part of ensuring people have a good experience in the last chapters of their life, Lewis et al. (2014) acknowledges "networks and relations of support are essential for ensuring quality end of life care is achieved". This is particularly relevant within lower socio-economic groups, a cohort that rarely accesses palliative care provision.
alleviate unmet need within the service's existing client base
increase engagement with individuals affected by non-malignant disease
provide appropriate support earlier following diagnosis
Methods Following an anecdotal needs assessment a pilot was stablished in two localities, the success of this leading to further establishment.
Results The project has grown since conception, having received 496 referrals; it supports 118 people across 20 localities, services ranging from dog walking to companionship.52% of those currently supported have non-malignant disease. The average length of time clients spend in relationship with the service has increased from 112 days to 150 days, suggesting we are engaging earlier in the disease trajectory.
Conclusion The uptake of this service has highlighted that a medical model does not represent a panacea thus strengthening the argument for a community focused holistic provision.
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