Hospice charity SOS for funds to keep vital services running

Hospiscare nurse Julie on the hospice’s specialist ward

Hospiscare nurse Julie on the hospice’s specialist ward - Credit: Lene Langley/Hospiscare

The need for end-of-life care is increasing nationally, but the hospice sector has been hit hard by the pandemic and the local hospice for Exeter, Mid and East Devon is struggling to keep its vital services running. 

Local hospice charity, Hospiscare, provides specialist end-of-life care to people living with a terminal illness and their families.

After losing vital income during the Covid-19 pandemic, Hospiscare launched an emergency Save our Services Appeal on November 1 to raise an additional £1 million by March 2022. 

Last year, the hospice saw a significant increase in demand for its services with a 15 per cent rise in patients. The charity is now caring for more people than ever before and this increase in demand is predicted to continue. 

Current estimates suggest that approximately 75 per cent of people approaching the end of life may benefit from palliative care. By 2040, people requiring specialist end-of-life care is projected to increase by 42 per cent. 

Devon’s needs are particularly acute and, due to the county’s popularity as a retirement destination, its population of over 65’s currently stands at 25.4 per cent - seven per cent higher than the national average. This, coupled with the closure of community hospitals and the rural challenges of the area, means that caring in the heart of Devon poses many complexities to local people living with terminal illnesses. 

Hospiscare is one of just 200 hospice charities in the UK that has the specialist staff and resources to provide end-of-life care. Research into palliative care provision found that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were increased concerns over the ability of the charitable sector to continue to raise the funds required to meet current and future demand. 

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With just 18% of Hospiscare’s funding coming from the NHS, the charity has struggled to generate income during the pandemic, with many of its fundraising events cancelled, its charity shops closed and fewer people leaving gifts to Hospiscare in their Wills. 

If the charity is unsuccessful in raising an additional £1 million by March 2022, it will be forced to close four beds on its specialist ward and reduce its weekend nursing care in patients’ homes. This reduction in services would have a drastic impact on the community it serves, resulting in turning away over 140 patients per year and losing weekend support for nearly 2,000 patients. 

Andrew Welch’s wife, Emma, spent the last weeks of her life on Hospiscare’s specialist ward in 2019.

Andrew explained: “Emma probably had six or seven additional weeks of life because of the care that this hospice provided. It made a phenomenal difference to her life. 

“Hospiscare gives those who are dying time, dignity and certainly in my wife’s case, confidence, and they do so in a very dignified and loving atmosphere, which makes a huge difference to everyone involved.” 

Those who would like to make a donation to help secure the hospice’s services can do so at www.hospiscare.co.uk/sos or by calling 01392 688020. 

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