Charitably funded hospices and the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic

8th November 2022

Independent charitably funded hospices have been an important element of the UK healthcare response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospices usually have different funding streams, procurement processes, and governance arrangements compared to NHS provision, which affected their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers based at the Cicely Saunders Institute have carried out a study of these organisations to find out about their experiences and response to the pandemic.

143 UK independent charitably funded hospices completed an online CovPall survey. Five hospices subsequently participated in qualitative case studies. Key themes included: vulnerabilities of funding; infection control during patient care; and bereavement support provision. Interviewees discussed the fragility of income due to fundraising events stopping; the difficulties of providing care to COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients within relatively small organisations; and challenges with maintaining the quality of bereavement services.

Some unique care and provision challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic were highlighted by charitably funded hospices. Funding core services charitably and independently may affect their ability to respond to pandemics, or other scenarios where resources are unexpectedly insufficient.

This analysis focused on the impact of COVID-19 on charitably funded hospices. The emergence of COVID-19 exposed the fragility of charitable hospice funding from the pre-lockdown era and highlighted how the current funding structure may be less suitable during emergency, pandemic conditions.

Garner, I.W., Walshe, C., Dunleavey, L. et al. Charitably funded hospices and the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic: a mixed-methods study (CovPall). BMC Palliat Care 21, 176 (2022).