Hospices are being called upon to adopt a culture of “rehabilitative palliative care” so they can support patients to “live well” in addition to caring for them in their last days of life.
A report published today challenges hospices to place greater emphasis on promoting independence in the care they provide people living with terminal illness.
“This new report will encourage hospices to promote a culture that helps patients to thrive, not just survive”
The rehabilitative palliative care approach is based on goal setting and self-management to empower people to actively manage their condition themselves, as far as possible, and achieve their personal priorities and goals.
It supports people living with terminal illness to maintain a normal daily routine, which can help improve their overall wellbeing. The idea dates back to the vision of Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement.
The new report – titled Rehabilitative Palliative Care: Enabling people to live fully until they die – has been written by Hospice UK, St Joseph’s Hospice and St Christopher’s Hospice.
It said the rehabilitative approach could be “brought to life” in hospices in a number of different ways through small but significant changes to care practices.
These included actively exploring individual patient’s personal goals for living, supporting and encouraging them to take responsibility for their own health and creating an “enabling culture” of support where they are given opportunities to do things for themselves wherever possible.
Simple practices highlighted in the new report include encouraging patients to get dressed in their own clothes every day, rather than pyjamas, sitting out of bed for all meals or maintaining the amount of walking usually done at home.
Dr Ros Taylor, national director for hospice care at Hospice UK, said: “This new report will encourage hospices to promote a culture that helps patients to thrive, not just survive, when faced with uncertainty and serious illness.
“The benefits of this approach are huge, not only for patients and their families but for hospices too, as they seek to respond to the challenges of supporting more people living longer with chronic conditions,” she added.
Some hospices have already introduced new initiatives. For example, St Joseph’s Hospice in East London has set up an “empowered living team”, where volunteers are trained to support patients in their own homes and encourage them to part in simple activities like visiting the local park or pub.