Maria McGill, chief executive of Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS), explains how her charity managed to secure a significant funding boost
Friday 14 October was a momentous day in Children’s Hospice Association Scotland’s (CHAS) history, and will be one of significance for hundreds of families across Scotland, who desperately need and rely on CHAS’ services now, and for those we are yet to reach.
CHAS is the only national hospice service provider in Scotland which is able to offer care for babies, children and young people, and the charity is hugely committed to providing the best standard of care to all those who need it. Last year, in partnership with the Scottish Government, we commissioned the Children in Scotland requiring Palliative Care Study (ChiSP). Launched by the cabinet secretary for health, wellbeing and sport, Shona Robinson MSP, the study revealed some stark figures which outline the need for an increase in palliative care services for babies, children young people and their families, which led to (on Friday 14 October) the Scottish Government committing £30 million to CHAS, over the next five years.
More needs to be done to reach a growing number of families whose children may benefit from more accessible palliative and end of life care
A first of its kind in terms of scale and nature, the ChiSP study identifies that there are 15,500 children in Scotland who have a life shortening condition, and 6,660 of those have had a hospital admission in the last year. There are just over 2,200 children whose conditions are deteriorating or unstable. The findings show that of the 450 children who die every year in Scotland, 195 of these could benefit from the love care and support offered by CHAS – in either of our two hospices in Kinross and Balloch, through our CHAS at Home service and increasingly in CHAS in hospital services.
For us, these figures came as no surprise. Our own, personal experiences and those gathered from our integrated working with the NHS, local authorities and other health and social care providers have indicated that much more needs to be done to reach a growing number of families whose children may benefit from more accessible palliative and end of life care.
Recommendations outlined within ChiSP, which informed the Scottish Government strategic framework for action on palliative and end of life care and our current strategic planning to improve children’s palliative care, include:
- Treating children under one as a priority group for palliative care services
- Increased access to specialised palliative care in children’s hospitals, children’s hospices and in the community across Scotland
- Allowing young people access to tailored support as they plan their transition from CHAS to adult care services
- Incorporation of domestic support to families as part of palliative care services, to offer a more holistic approach
- Services to ensure access to care in areas of higher deprivation and be culturally sensitive
- Improved psychological, emotional and domestic support.
The government’s commitment over the next five years to CHAS demonstrates its confidence in the charity to be able to deliver quality palliative care and support to families across Scotland who need it, and its backing will make this much more feasible.
Maria McGill is chief executive of Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS).