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Hospice care conference

PUBLISHED: 10:39 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:27 05 July 2010

The importance of giving people the choice and ability to die in their own homes was outlined yesterday at a major regional conference.

Care officials gathered at Somerleyton Hall, near Lowestoft, to discuss hospice care in the 21st century and heard compelling arguments for giving patients greater choice.

The importance of giving people the choice and ability to die in their own homes was outlined yesterday at a major regional conference.

Care officials gathered at Somerleyton Hall, near Lowestoft, to discuss hospice care in the 21st century and heard compelling arguments for giving patients greater choice.

Speakers from hospices across the region said that the recognition that many people wanted the opportunity to spend their final days with their loved ones at home was vital.

David Rushton, head of family support at St Nicholas' Hospice, in Thetford, said just 18pc of people currently died at home, down from 85pc 100 years ago. This is expected to drop to 9pc by 2030.

However, he quoted research that showed many people wanted the choice of dying at home and said his hospice now operated a system where families and not just patients were assessed, with a specialist therapist being employed.

“This aim simply cannot be reached without the family being centre stage,” said Mr Rushton. “Families are a source of strength.”

Mr Rushton said the annual value of care provided by families stood at £87bn, but pointed to a ticking timebomb, with the number of people needing care expected to rise by 2.9 million by 2040, but the number of carers set to fall.

Ann Smit, head of patient care at the Farleigh House Hospice, in Essex, told delegates that her organisation had raised more than £230,000 to adapt a large van to

enable outreach services to be launched.

“We have felt for a long time that we need to alter the public perception of hospices and allay the fears about being admitted to hospice care,” she said.

Verity Jolly, director of patient care at the St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich, said its improved day care facilities had allowed for terminally ill patients to receive support at an earlier stage.

“We are saying that hospices can really make a difference to a patient's quality life earlier in their illness,” she added.

The importance of palliative care for youngsters was also highlighted in a presentation by East Anglia's Children's Hospices, in which chief executive Graham Butland said many parents wanted support to allow their children to die at home.

Yesterday's conference was arranged by Margaret Chadd, from Southwold, who launched the Cruse Bereavement Care in Suffolk and is now involved in the hospice movement.

Delegates also heard about plans to build a new hospice for the Yarmouth and Waveney area and plans for a new facility to serve north-west Norfolk, being pioneered by the Tapping House organisation.

The conference was also addressed by Conservative MP and shadow health minister Mike Penning.

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