There is a common misconception that hospice care is only available in hospice buildings. Hospice buildings are amazing places but hospice care is so much more than bricks and mortar.
The reality is that hospice care is delivered in a surprising range of settings, including in people's homes. In fact 90% of hospice care is delivered away from a hospice building. Hospice teams are also involved in educating staff working in other settings such as care homes and hospitals.
Hospice care is personalised, comprehensive care for adults and children with terminal or life-limiting conditions which supports their physical, emotional, social, practical and spiritual needs and also supports their families and carers. It is provided by a diverse team of people ranging from doctors to reflexologists.
The hospice care sector is also supported by at least 125,000 volunteers who play an important part in promoting the distinctive ethos and highly personalised approach of hospice care, helping extend this beyond the walls of hospices to other care settings.
The way hospice teams take this care away from physical buildings and bring it to those in need is both impressive and, at times, surprising. The theme of Hospice Care Week this year (06-12 October, ending on World Hospice and Palliative Care Day) was 'Hospice Care, Everywhere' - and we have been amazed at some of the ways hospice care is shared across the UK.
We heard about hospice nurses who work with frontline staff in hospitals to support people approaching the end of life, a 'mobile hospice' that can park up in a garden centre car park and provide information and advice - and even a 'Men's Shed' where bereaved men, and men whose loved ones have been diagnosed with a life-limiting condition, can take part in woodwork and crafts in an environment where they feel comfortable talking about the difficulties they are facing themselves.
We hope that through Hospice Care Week and the amazing experiences kindly shared using #HospiceCareWeek, we highlighted the breadth of hospice care and the strong culture of compassionate care among hospice staff and volunteers, which focuses on the dignity and wellbeing of each individual, wherever they are supported.
Hospice UK's Commission into the Future of Hospice Care aimed to identify and understand the challenges facing hospices over the next 10-15 years. It is clear that providing excellent care at the end of life requires hard work and an ability to adapt to changes in society, such as an increasingly ageing population living with multiple and complex conditions. What is also clear is that hospice teams are dedicated and able to find ways to share hospice care, everywhere.
So when you hear the word 'hospice', what do you think of?