Health and social care groups call for ‘radical transformational shift’ in end-of-life care

Vulnerable people are being failed by poor end-of-life care, a coalition of health and social care organisations said, as they called for a “radical transformational shift” in how older people are looked after.

The groups, which have come together under the Coalition of Frontline Care for People Nearing the End of Life, said better staff training could see more people “live well and die well at home”.

The current system is not working and will get worse with an increasingly older population, they said.

The groups, including Care England, the British Geriatrics Society and the National Care Forum, have written to Health Secretary Steve Barclay to urge a change in approach.

They said: “We believe there is a strong case to shift resources to something that is central to the delivery of high-quality integrated care, for the benefit of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

They said more people could be cared for and die at home “with better staff training and stronger support in accordance with the wishes of the voting public”.

They said: “The current system is not working and is failing those most in need, notably older people in their final years.

“As the population ages, with death rates predicted to increase by 25% by 2040 and numbers aged over 85 set to double, the issue of the fractured interdependence of health and care is likely to escalate.”

The groups said a “radical transformational shift in the care for older people nearing the end of their lives” is needed through “support and investment at service, system and national levels”.

They called for enhanced training in personalised end-of-life care for the frontline workforce in health and social care, system changes for Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) to enhance community care and “over-hospitalisation”, and a shift in policy and regulation nationally.

The coalition said “repeated surveys” had shown a preference by most people to be able to die at home or in a care home “supported by their familiar care providers”, but that in reality many die in hospital “with repeated emergency hospital admissions in their final year”.

They added: “Too often we hear of older people enduring poor quality care and the distress of families navigating a system not fit for purpose.

“We believe things could be different and that we must strive to ensure quality care at the end of life for all.”

Care England chief executive Professor Martin Green (pictured) said: “If the Government is willing to grasp the nettle on this issue, we can bring about a step-change in care.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Integrated care boards (ICBs) are responsible for commissioning palliative and end of life care to meet local needs, and NHS England provided £1.5 billion additional funding to ICBs to provide support for inflation last year.

“Our £570 million The Market Sustainability and Improvement Fund (MSIF) Workforce Fund will increase adult social care capacity, improve market sustainability, and enable local authorities to make tangible improvements to adult social care service such as end-of-life care.

“We also invested £8 million last financial year to provide training to support Community Health Service staff retention and training to improve quality of care.”

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