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Success of Highland Hospice partnership working celebrated in report


By Gregor White

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A 3 Glens home carer with one of the electric vehicles they now have access to.
A 3 Glens home carer with one of the electric vehicles they now have access to.

A recent report has highlighted Highland Hospice's community partnerships and how these enable the delivery of vital care services locally.

The independent evaluation of Highland Hospice's befriending and care at home partnerships by SKS Scotland CIC was commissioned to identify if this approach to service delivery in remote and rural communities was effective – and what could be done to improve the experience of those approaching the end of life across the region.

Highland Hospice operates community partnerships in north and east Sutherland, Skye, Wester Ross, north Argyll, west Lochaber and the Great Glen.

All 10 partnerships – with Black Isle Cares, Boleskine Community Care, Gairloch and Loch Ewe Action Forum (GALE), North Coast Connection, Onban Hospice, Skye and Lochalsh Council for Voluntary Services, Soirbheas (in Glenurquhart and Strathglass), Sutherland Care Forum, Urramand 3 Glens Communtiy Care (in Fort Augustus, Glenmoriston and Glengarry) – offer volunteer befriending and social engagement to support those isolated due to ill-health.

Three of the partners support the hospice’s Sunflower Home Care service which provides essential social care in communities where the NHS and other independent providers have been unable to recruit staff and meet need.

The report found that the model of partnership working with Highland Hospice is invaluable in enabling the provision of care services within local communities. Without the support of the hospice, these services would not be available within many of these communities.

The report used a series of semi-structured interviews with 10 community partner organisations (staff and trustees); nine volunteer befrienders; 10 service users and four health and social care professionals to gain an insight into the value of the work done.

Among its key findings, the report stated, all partners identified that the model of partnership working with Highland Hospice is "invaluable" in enabling the provision of befriending and care at home services within their local communities and that partners value the flexibility and understanding that the Hospice shows.

3 Glens Community Care in Fort Augustus said: "Highland Hospice were the answer to our prayers."

The partnership with 3 Glens includes support for Sunflower Home Care.

As the Sunflower carers cover a wide geographical area, access to reliable vehicles is crucial and a lack of transport can be a hindrance to already challenging staff recruitment.

3 Glens worked in partnership with Fort Augustus and Glen Moriston Community Company and Glengarry Trust to secure funds from SSE Renewables Sustainable Development Fund and purchase three electric cars and two e-bikes for care staff use.

The report finds the key benefits of this new resource include:

  • reduced journey times for Sunflower Home Care staff, who would normally walk;
  • reduced wear and tear on private vehicles and opening up opportunities for the recruitment of carers without cars;
  • making the carer role more attractive to new and existing carers, leading to greater job retention and recruitment;
  • reduction in carbon emissions;
  • cheaper running costs than petrol or diesel cars.

3 Glens Community Care is now working with Highland Hospice to identify scope for one of the vehicles to be used to support their befriending service and a community transport scheme.

This would further enhance the ability of 3 Glens to support community need in relation to social care and wider day to day living in a remote area, which is very poorly served by public transport.

The report also spoke to service-users, with one care at home client noting: "I couldn’t make it better if I tried. They are very caring people, so helpful – a godsend."

Andrew Leaver, head of income and development at Highland Hospice, said: "We started our community partnership work over six years ago as a way to provide support right across the Highlands and not just in the hospice in Inverness.

"This tremendous feedback from partners and service-users reinforces our commitment to this form of working and we hope that more communities will ask for our support in developing and delivering vital care services."

A case study of the hospice's befriending service detailed how one service user self-referred to the service when her husband died, as she had a fall and lost her confidence.

She described her befriender as an excellent listener who gives her time and help to do the things she wants to do, for example, taking her out for lunch and taking her to an art class.

She says she would not have regained her confidence after her husband died if it wasn’t for the befriending service.

The report by SKS Scotland CIC concluded: "The model of partnership working is operating well and enabling the delivery of vital social care services within local communities.

"Volunteers enjoy their crucial role in delivering of much needed befriending services.

"Whilst the role can be challenging at times, befriending provides a flexible way for them to give back to their community, utilising their skills. It also provides opportunities for them to gain new knowledge and skills, through information and training sessions with the hospice and community partners.

"Befriending and Sunflower Home Care are highly rated and valued by service users. The support they receive has a significant positive impact on their quality of life in key ways, including reducing loneliness, increasing confidence, helping to maintain independence and being able to stay in their own homes.

"These services also provide important respite for carers, in turn supporting their health and wellbeing, and peace of mind for family members."

It recommends further work to attract more volunteers and boost training and increase awareeness of the services offered.

A copy of the full report can be downloaded here

Any community group that would like to partner with Highland Hospice in their own area should contact Harry Tedstone at h.tedstone@highlandhospice.org.uk.


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