Public Concerned About The Rising Demand For Hospice Care Survey Shows

Seven in ten people think demand for hospice care will “rocket” in coming decades because of the UK’s rapidly ageing population and many are worried about its future availability according to a new survey commissioned by Help the Hospices.

Almost half of those surveyed (48 per cent) say they are concerned there won’t be enough hospice care available in the future to support them or their loved ones if they need this. This rises to almost two thirds of people (63 per cent) among those aged 65 and over. A further 16 per cent of people are “frightened” there won’t be enough hospice care available in the future to support them or their loved ones.

More than three quarters of people (76 per cent) think that in future hospices will have to work more in partnership with other healthcare providers to deliver care for the UK’s ageing population.

The survey, conducted by leading pollster Populus, also showed the public views hospices very positively. More than two thirds of people (69 per cent) regard them as “a place that offers compassionate care”.


Few people are aware that hospice care is provided in a range of settings beyond hospices themselves. Less than a quarter of those surveyed (22 per cent) know it is available in people’s homes, where in fact, the majority of hospice care is provided.

The survey’s findings are published as a new report by the Commission into the Future of Hospice Care highlights the challenges facing hospices over the next 10-15 years.

According to the Commission, the UK’s ageing population will place increasing demands on hospices because of the rising number of people with complex health and social care needs. The number of people aged 85 and over alone is expected to double in the next 20 years. In addition, the number of young people with life-limiting conditions who receive hospice care is also increasing.

The Commission is calling on hospices to adapt and diversify so they are equipped to face the opportunities and challenges they face in the future. It proposes a range of actions hospices need to take over the next two to three years to prepare for these.

Its main recommendations include:

  • Hospices will need to develop new models of care and adapt existing services to meet increasing and changing demands for their services
  • In future hospices will need to work more closely with other organisations including the NHS, local authorities, care homes and voluntary sector organisations. Collaboration between hospices will also be important to maximise resources and increase efficiency
  • Hospices need to become “champions of change” for care in their local communities and not just service providers. They should seek to actively influence health and social care service delivery in their local communities and share their expertise in providing person-centred care more widely with other organisations, including hospitals
  • Hospices will need to reshape and rejuvenate their workforces to help future challenges, including building new skills and expanding the role of volunteers
  • There is public demand for hospices to support more people with different conditions beyond cancer, including the “frail elderly” and people with dementia, by working in partnership with other organisations



Lord Howard of Lympne, Chair of Help the Hospices, said:

“Demand for hospice care will surge in coming decades, driven by the UK’s rapidly ageing population, and our survey shows there is considerable public concern about this. There is also widespread public recognition that hospices need to work in partnership with other healthcare providers to meet this increasing demand.

“The Commission’s report is a clarion call to all of us in the hospice sector to prepare for the huge challenges that lie ahead. However, there is also a real opportunity for hospices to take a stronger lead on providing care across their local communities.  Through partnership working and by sharing their expertise more widely in providing compassionate, cohesive care, hospices have a big role to play in tackling the demands of an ageing population and helping transform care across all settings, from hospitals to care homes.”

Dame Clare Tickell, Chair of the Commission into the Future of Hospice Care, said:

“The Commission’s timely report sets out an ambitious vision for the future of hospice care and comes at a critical juncture for our care system which is still failing too many people.

“Whilst hospices clearly need to adapt, they have a very strong history of innovation and evolving to meet people’s needs, so are well placed to meet the challenges they face. Hospices already lead the way on providing high quality person-centred care in their local communities. They now need to raise their game to become stronger, more collaborative players in the health and social care environment and share their expertise more widely. By doing so they can become a key part of the wider solution of how best to support the UK’s ageing population.”

Professor Dame Barbara Monroe, Vice Chair of the Commission into the Future of Hospice Care added:

“Modern hospices grew out of a response to appalling deficits in care for people facing the end of life. Now nearly 50 years on, there are still too many shameful lapses which have dented public confidence in the care system.

“In preparing for the challenges that lie ahead, hospices have a unique opportunity to once again lead a new revolution to help transform care. Hospices need to be bolder in extending their influence; by developing new services, forging new partnerships and exporting their values and practices to other organisations. By strengthening their individual and collective power, hospices can help provide the vital support that all patients with life-shortening conditions and their families deserve, wherever they receive care.”

The Commission into the Future of Hospice Care, which was established in 2011, is composed of leading figures from within and outside the hospice care sector. It was set up in response to the publication of a report by think tank Demos called “Dying for Change” in 2010.

The Commission’s report comes as the National End of Life Care Strategy for England – launched in 2008 – is due to be updated and amidst growing calls nationally for more integrated health and social care.















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