Media watch: hospices vital to COVID-19 response
7th April 2020
Bloomberg Online have covered the results of a recent research study in the UK and Italy carried out by researchers at the Cicely Saunders Institute on the role and response of hospices in the current pandemic. The article highlights the financial pressure being felt by hospices as their normal income streams from charity shops and from events such as the London Marathon have disappeared overnight.
Professor Irene Higginson, Director of the Cicely Saunders Institute said:
“Hospice and palliative care services can respond quickly and flexibly to provide additional support during the COVID-19 epidemic. I have been impressed by the ways in which these services, in England and in Italy have responded. Some have changed they way they use volunteers, who now help by delivering food to vulnerable people and by supporting grieving families.
Hospices and palliative care services also have a vital role in guiding how to manage symptoms. In Italy, and learning from their approach in the UK, we are providing rapid (15 minute plus brief discussion) training to staff in COVID-19 symptom management and communication. But to do this hospice and palliative care must be linked into the national response, and have access to proper personal protective equipment. They should not close. Instead they need to work more closely with existing services, and will, likely, need to change how they work in the context of COVID-19.