Following recent figures from the UK charity Shelter that found that more than 3,800 people were recorded as homeless in Devon and Cornwall, Rowcroft Hospice has launched a new project to support homeless communities across South Devon.
Funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the project is a collaborative initiate, working in partnership with other charities and organisations who are supporting homeless people in the region, with the goal of improving access to end-of-life and palliative care to homeless and vulnerably housed people. This includes people who are rough sleeping and in all types of temporary accommodation, such as hotels, bed and breakfasts, and hostels.
“Homeless and vulnerably housed people face daily challenges and have often experienced significant trauma and adversity in their lives,” said Jane Butland, Rowcroft’s Clinical Nurse Specialist who is heading up the project. “Accessing quality healthcare, especially end-of-life and palliative care, is often a significant struggle in these circumstances, and homeless people can face avoidable suffering.
Rowcroft, with its commitment to delivering specialist and inclusive care to all adults with life-limiting illnesses, has set up this new initiative to bridge the gap and provide vital support where it is most needed.
“Homeless and vulnerably housed people often do not see their own health as a priority. And because there are so many barriers in terms of accessing healthcare, they are often late in seeking the help they need. For those requiring palliative and end-of-life care, barriers can sometimes include the inflexibility of the
healthcare system, a lack of understanding about what palliative care is, and a lack of awareness about the types of care available. Many assume that palliative care only applies to the last days of life, but that isn’t the case at all.”
While inequity in access to palliative care continues to be a major issue across the
UK, with the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance in their ‘Equity in Access to Palliative Care Report’ calling out palliative care as ‘one of the most inequitable areas of healthcare’, Rowcroft Hospice is working to an inclusive agenda that supports people from all sectors of society.
“We are working towards equity in healthcare and ensuring that we provide specialist end-of-life care for all,” said Jane. “We want people to know that our specialist care is available to everyone with complex needs and life-limiting illnesses, including people who are rough sleeping and we can deliver expert holistic care to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual support as people approach the end of their lives. By collaborating and pooling our skills and expertise with others, we can reach the most vulnerable people and offer the very best support to our homeless communities.
“There’s huge scope for Rowcroft to offer specialist support to more homeless people with life-limiting illnesses. We are starting to do this by offering advice, training and support to local charities and organisations, so that they have the tools, information and confidence to support people with life-limiting illness. This can empower staff already in place working with individuals who are homeless or vulnerably housed to have conversations about their needs, preferences and future wishes, and to inform them of the types of specialist end-of-life and palliative care available. Rowcroft can then support as a service to deliver that care where and when it’s needed – whether that’s through our Inpatient Unit in Torquay, Community Team or Hospice at Home Team.
“Every person, regardless of their housing situation, deserves to be treated with
dignity and respect during their end-of-life journey. Our team at Rowcroft is committed to breaking down barriers and ensuring that homeless individuals have access to the holistic care and specialist support they need.”
Hostel Manager Katy Fisher from Leonard Stocks Centre said:“At the hostel we are so pleased to support the project run by Rowcroft. Offering
end-of-life care to those who have experienced homelessness and giving them the opportunity to have a voice about their care is so important, especially because they have often been let down by services and feel that they are not heard – we want them to have the same experiences as any other person and this service offers that.”
To further their aspirations of inclusive specialist care for all at end of life,
Rowcroft Hospice has recently launched the No One Alone Appeal that asserts that no one should face end of life alone. The appeal’s strapline, ‘A vision of specialist end-of-life care for all’, underlines the charity’s ethos of providing inclusive care for all adults with complex and life-limiting illness, regardless of background, diagnosis or circumstance. This care is predominantly funded through the generous donations of the local community and makes a tangible difference during some of
life’s toughest moments.
While Rowcroft is playing a key role in delivering specialist end-of-life care to
2,500 patients and their loved ones across South Devon each year, an escalating
local demand is putting pressure on the hospice’s services. Through the No One
Alone Appeal, by 2026 Rowcroft aims to raise an additional £500,000 annually to help care for 260 more patients every year. This will be a key milestone towards the hospice’s longer term goal of supporting an annual total of 3,000 patients and their loved ones by 2030.
For more information about Rowcroft’s No One Alone Appeal, or to donate, please
go to rowcrofthospice.org.uk/no-one-alone
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