End of life care for people who are homeless

Last month saw the publication of the Care Quality Commission document ‘A Different Ending’ – this highlights that people from certain groups in society are experiencing poorer quality care at the end of their lives than others because providers and commissioners do not always understand or fully consider their specific needs.

The publication clearly highlights the fact that people who are homeless are usually not identified as approaching the end of life early enough, even though early identification is so important for this group.

At St Ann’s we understand that it takes a long time for people who are homeless to develop a trusting and nurturing relationship with services, so people need to be identified early to us to allow planning to happen and provide them with the opportunity to reconnect with family if possible. Our multidisciplinary teams that work across our three sites over Greater Manchester aim to provide holistic palliative care in a person centered way.

All our patients have a life-limiting illness but their needs are varied and diverse. We can offer a 1-1 supportive out patient’s service where patients are able to self-refer to our Neil Cliffe Centre for an assessment with a key worker, some services that can be offered here are breathlessness management, counselling, fatigue management or symptom control. People are also referred for inpatient care for different reasons including control of symptoms (e.g. sickness, nausea), rehabilitation following treatment or care in the last days of life. Inpatient care is offered from two of our sites – Health Green and Little Hulton. Admission to the inpatient unit must be supported by a health care professional referral.

It is not advisable for people just to turn up at the hospice sites, however all three sites can be contacted Monday to Friday 9-5pm for advice regarding referrals or the specialist services we offer. The hospice provides a 24 hour free help line for any specific palliative care advice.

A Different Ending: Addressing Inequalities in End of Life Care; CQC; May 2016