As Britain’s ageing population grows older, with many of us increasingly facing the prospect of dying alone, one of the UK’s leading hospices, Somerset-based St Margaret’s, is to hold a unique summit this week (Friday Oct 30th) supported by two major national charities. The aim: to confront, assess and tackle the mounting challenges facing the critical provision of end-of-life care.
St Margaret’s Hospice, which has bases in Taunton and Yeovil, has organised the summit to bring together leading healthcare experts, politicians, carers, national cancer charities, church leaders, academics, neighbouring hospices and the local authority, to assess the action that is required to support palliative care provision in the future. It comes at a time the county and the UK is facing up to the dual challenge of funding cuts and increasing health and social care needs as we live longer.
The summit will also mark the launch of the Fit for the Future review being led by Lord Ashdown, one of St Margaret’s Vice-Presidents. This will represent one of the largest community engagement programmes in the country to provide a blueprint for better and more efficient palliative care across the county and the UK.
Somerset is very much in the spotlight when it comes to future healthcare challenges as it has one of the biggest ageing populations in the UK. By 2033, most of the county is likely to have at least 25% of the population over 65 and it is projected that there will be as many people in their 80s as in their 20s (source ONS).
In the next 15 years, it is predicted that some 40% of the population will die alone without adequate care and support.