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Canterbury’s Pilgrims Hospice to close

“Hospice closure means we can care for more patients”

A hospice boss says closing a third of its inpatient beds will mean more people with terminal or life-limiting illnesses can be cared for at home.

Steve Auty, chief executive of Pilgrims Hospices, said hospice care was not about buildings but delivering care where people needed it, whether at home, in a care home, a hospital or a hospice.

Speaking to the Times after news of the closure of the 16-bed in-patient unit at the Canterbury hospice was revealed, he said the changes were necessary to allow the charity to continue into into the future, when numbers of patients are expected to increase. Mr Auty, who has worked at the hospice for nine years, said:

Steve Auty
Steve Auty


There are many more people who will die in east Kent than we, the hospice, can ever cope with. We want to work with health and social care professionals to improve end of life care, and we want to educate and develop those professionals and share best practice with them. Irrespective of illness we will stay true to our holistic way of doing things by caring for people’s physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs at the most vulnerable times.

The closure plan is part of a new strategy for the hospices, developed by senior doctors and discussed with groups of staff for the last year. It was endorsed by the trustees last month and includes a commitment to developing more education and development programmes.

Several new roles will be created as part of the changes, including an associate director of education and development, a volunteer development manager and a database manager responsible for improving relationships with supporters. Planned inpatient respite care will also stop, but the 16 bed units at Ashford and Margate run by the charity will remain open. Mr Auty said:

The strategy has been generated by staff who have the knowledge of providing care. The demand is going to increase in two ways, complexity of illnesses and numbers of patients and there is a need for the whole of the health care system to operate in a different way to make sure the care is delivered for an increasing number of people. We can’t cope with everybody now, we are not going to cope with everybody in 20 years time.

And Mr Auty appealed to people to continue to support the charity, which needs £10.5 million a year to run. The changes will cost £500,000 over three years. He said:

What is important is to maintain support from the community for what we do. We still need people’s support to keep going even though we will be operating in a different way. It is an emotional time for everybody. But the clarity of what we want to do in the future makes so much sense. Hospice care is a philosophy of care, it involves education, training and research. Ultimately it is not about buildings it is about the quality of care and we are still going to do that.

HB Times 8th May 2014

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