More than £3m is to be invested in education and training in end-of-life and palliative care and other initiatives in Scotland to improve people’s experiences when they die, the government has announced.
Launching its new framework on this type of care, the Scottish government pledged to ensure everyone who needs palliative care - those who have a life-threatening illness - will have access to it by 2021.
“Through this new framework we want to make sure that everyone receives high quality palliative care – tailored to their own symptoms and life circumstances”
The document, called the Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care 2016 - 2021, lays out 10 commitments supported by £3.5m additional investment over four years.
This includes the creation of a new education framework for health and social care professionals, which will define core competencies and describe levels of attainment.
In its supporting evidence for the framework, the government noted there was a “huge requirement” to provide training to all parts of the workforce, not just those in specialist roles.
“More can be done to include relevant palliative and end of life content in undergraduate, postgraduate and prequalification curricula for the caring professions,” said the document.
“More can be done to include relevant palliative and end of life content in undergraduate, postgraduate and prequalification curricula”
Supporting evidence document
The required size of the specialist workforce – including those working in hospices and at national charities - also needed to be determined to ensure it could be developed over the coming years, added the document.
However, the government noted there were challenges in access to training due to difficulties in releasing staff from clinical and caring duties.
Other commitments laid out in the framework include improvements in the early identification of people who might benefit from palliative care.
It also pledged to further develop holistic palliative care for children and young people aged 0 to 25.
Recent figures show the number of children and young people in Scotland with a life-limiting condition rose “markedly” in the decade to 2013/14 from just over 12,000 to around 15,400.
“The framework rightly recognises that the issues and needs of children’s palliative care are unique”
“At any one time, over 2,000 children and young people may be in an unstable condition, deteriorating or dying in Scotland. The potential demand for palliative care in this context clearly outstrips current provision,” said the government in its supporting evidence.
Better discussions need to be had by professionals and the public about bereavement, death, dying and end-of-life care, added the government.
It has committed to commissioning work from a range of groups including schools, colleges and prisons to raise awareness, as well as developing plans to ensure public health professionals understand their role in conversations around palliative care.
Launching the framework, Scotland’s health secretary Shona Robison said: “Scotland already has a very good reputation for our palliative and end of life care. But we are determined to keep improving. One of the key areas we want to improve is on the consistency of services.
“Through this new framework we want to make sure that everyone receives high quality palliative care – tailored to their own symptoms and life circumstances. This should be delivered to the same high standards, regardless of where you live, or what your illness is.”
Commenting on the framework, Maria McGill, chief executive of Children’s Hospice Association Scotland, said: “The framework rightly recognises that the issues and needs of children’s palliative care are unique and that this area in particular requires further development and commitment.
“We look forward to working with the Scottish Government and other bodies to further developing our exemplar palliative care service and ensuring it supports every child who needs it.”