Background The Safe Harbour project was set up in 2016 to address the lack of hospice support for patients from underserved groups. During its pilot phase, a feasibility study established that there was poor access to hospice support for vulnerable people.
Aims To enable vulnerable people in North East Essex to live well with their life limiting illness and die with dignity in a place of their choice.
Methods A three-year project, funded by Macmillan was set up to facilitate the services needed to enable the aims to be reached. The focus was on those from the local homeless community, those living in areas of deprivation and those identified through the lung cancer early diagnosis scheme. As referrals increase from these groups, the future aim is to focus on networking with other support groups and improve hospice care for patients with mental illness, learning disabilities, LGBTQ+ groups and refugees.
Successful liaisons with homeless support groups, neighbourhood schemes and services for vulnerable people in North East Essex;
Joint working between lung oncology services and hospice to improve the uptake of palliative support for patients with lung cancer;
A Macmillan information hub, staffed by volunteers, providing information to patients;
Referrals have increased by 51% in areas of deprivation due to improved communication/liaison with local support groups;
Patients have included homeless, drug and alcohol users, hoarders, patients with learning disabilities, mental health issues and those from ethnic minority groups.
Conclusion By providing information about the hospice services to the support groups and neighbourhood schemes local knowledge has improved. The service and referrals to the hospice for the most marginalised of our population have grown.
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