Together for Short Lives has welcomed an independent review which has found that high quality care is available to seriously ill young people at Wales’ children’s hospices. However, the charity has called on Welsh ministers to take action to make sure young people can access smooth transitions to adult services, as well as age-appropriate palliative care.
The findings were set out by Health Inspectorate Wales (HIW) in a report of its thematic review of healthcare services for young people. HIW stated that seriously ill young people received safe and effective care at Wales’ two children’s hospices, Tŷ Hafan and Tŷ Gobaith. HIW found that:
- staff were kind and caring and provided good support to families
- young people received care that was tailored to their specific needs and were supported with an extensive range of facilities and programmes to enhance their well-being
- children, young people and their families were involved in decisions about their care, and hospice staff were particularly respectful of their wishes for end-of-life care and after death.
“I am delighted that Wales’ children’s hospices have been recognised this way by the independent regulator” said Andy Fletcher, Chief Executive of Together for Short Lives. Children’s hospices play a crucial role in supporting families of seriously ill children by helping to manage their symptoms, offering bereavement support and giving them regular, vital breaks. They also help to take the pressure off our overstretched NHS services. I call on the Welsh Government to implement HIW’s recommendation to assess unmet demand for palliative care services to ensure children and young people across Wales get the care they need.”
HIW also found that young people’s transition to adult services was varied and inconsistent. While local health boards (LHBs) generally worked to implement national guidance on transition, the age at which transition starts varies. HIW found that, in some cases, it was rushed and did not always start early enough. In practice, particularly for young people with complex needs, HIW identified that transition is fragmented and can feel like ‘falling off a cliff edge’.
Andy Fletcher said: “Despite some good care being provided to young people, it is clear that much more needs to be done to make sure they can access services which are appropriate to their age and developmental stage. Transitions from children’s to adult services must be as smooth as possible. Welsh ministers should heed HIW’s call for the Welsh Government and LHBs to make sure there are clear transition pathways and policies in place for each service area, including palliative care, which are consistent with national guidelines.”
“I am delighted that Wales’ children’s hospices have been recognised this way by the independent regulator”Andy Fletcher, Chief Executive of Together for Short Lives