Only three in five Britons know that hospice care is free

13 October 2017

Only three in five UK adults are aware that services provided by hospices are generally free for those receiving them according to a new survey published this week by the charity Hospice UK.

Mark Hawkins, Chief Executive at South Devon hospice, Rowcroft said:

“There are common misconceptions around hospices; about how we are funded, who is eligible for hospice care and how the care is delivered.”

“The insights from this survey will help us to reach out to more people who are unaware of the fantastic support provided by Rowcroft to people and families in South Devon.”

The survey also highlighted that nearly a third of UK adults (31 per cent) think hospice care is available only in a hospice building. Less than half of UK adults (45 per cent) are aware that hospice care is available in community settings such as at home and in care homes. Mark said:

“For us ‘hospice’ is not a place it’s our philosophy of care, wherever that is needed. The majority of people supported by Rowcroft are cared for at home, through services such as Rowcroft’s community team and Hospice at Home nurses. Just under a quarter of patients receive care in Rowcroft’s 12 bedded inpatient unit.”

A fifth of those surveyed (20 per cent) think hospice care is only for people in their last days of life, suggesting they are unaware it is available to people with terminal and life-limiting conditions from diagnosis until their dying moments. Mark added:

“People’s needs and expectations change and Rowcroft Hospice constantly adapts its services to meet these needs. Despite having to make substantial cuts and over £1 million of savings last year, Rowcroft continues to support over 2000 local people each year and is now seeking to increase the number of patients with a non-cancer diagnosis.”

“All of the care we provide is free of charge but is funded in the main through fundraising, donations and gifts in Wills. Rowcroft is only here thanks to the overwhelming support of the local community.”

The poll of 2,100 British adults also found there are potentially 118,000 people in the UK with terminal and life-limiting conditions who are not able to access the expert care they need at the end of life, including hospice care.

Hospice UK Chief Executive Tracey Bleakley said:

"This survey shows there is tremendous good will by the UK public towards hospices and that they are dear to people's hearts, however it also reveals some surprising gaps in people's knowledge about modern hospice care.”

“At a time when one in four families are missing out on hospice care and with increasing pressures facing the UK’s care system, it is more important than ever that more people are aware of what charitable hospices can offer and where to turn when they need support.”

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