These are important times for palliative and end of life care in Scotland, and with an ongoing parliamentary inquiry into palliative care we are all eager to see what the outcomes will be. But first we must all play our part.
I am already involved as the Consulting Editor in the production of the Scottish Government’s Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative Care, and my colleague Hamilton Inbadas is taking part in the stakeholder group which feeds relevant experience and expertise into the framework. Together with the Dr Michelle Gillies, Specialist Registrar in Public Health at the Scottish Public Health Network and colleagues, we are also engaged in some palliative care ‘mapping’ work across Scotland to inform the Framework. The inquiry and the Framework are clearly linked.
I was particularly excited to see that the parliamentary inquiry will be looking at some of the international evidence on palliative care indicators.
Such indicators can take two main forms:
- Indicators of specific resources (or inputs) that support the delivery of palliative care – policies, guidelines, funding mechanisms, professional accreditation, services, beds, staff, drug availability, training, research infrastructure.
- Indicators of quality (or outcomes) that tell us something about how well palliative care is being delivered – audits, outcome studies, quality markers, service user feedback and evaluation.
Investigating indicators of both types would help us to develop some much-needed comparisons between Scotland and other countries where mutual learning might be meaningful.
I’d like to play my part by contributing to the thinking on indicators in Scotland in a way which brings the insights gained during my previous studies of the global development of palliative care and applies them directly to this new work on the future of palliative care in Scotland.
“Shine a light”
The inquiry was launched by the Health and Sport Committee of the Scottish Parliament on 2 July 2015 at the Marie Curie Hospice Glasgow. At the launch, the Convener of the Committee Duncan McNeil MSP said that it will “shine a light on access to palliative care in Scotland and what more can be done to improve care for people at the end of their lives.”
This is good news.
The inquiry provides an excellent opportunity to look at what ‘is’ and what ‘ought to be’ about the organisation of palliative care in the Scottish context.
It will also further strengthen the work that is currently going on to produce the Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care.
Seeking your views
The inquiry is seeking written views from interested parties on a range of questions. Interested parties means individuals personally affected, those working in palliative care, academics, faith groups, those concerned about care at the end of life, and many more – a wide range!
It is looking for evidence about the experiences which people have had of palliative care and also at access to services across the different groups who might benefit.
The inquiry is also highlighting the issue of when, where and how conversations about palliative care should be introduced and what anticipatory care planning can contribute to this. There are questions here too about information needs for patients and families and the training and support requirements of health care workers.
Lots to consider, but don’t waste time – the call for views ends on 12 August 2015 and your input is crucial.