Hospice care across England has the highest percentage of services rated ‘Outstanding’, according to a new report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The ‘State of Hospice Services in England, 2014 to 2017’ found that 25% of hospices are rated as Outstanding (51 services), with a further 70% (142 services) being rated as Good. This is in comparison to around 6% of NHS acute hospitals, 4% of GP services and 2% of domiciliary care agencies, nursing homes and residential homes being rated Outstanding. In particular, inspectors found that hospice leaders and frontline staff displayed a strong commitment to providing truly personcentred, compassionate care and support to people using their services, and their loved ones, as well as developing strong relationships with other services in the area.

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of adult social care at the Care Quality Commission, said: “People often access hospice care at a time when their complicated health and social care needs have to be met alongside compassionate emotional support. This is not a simple thing to do. To see dedicated staff have such careful consideration of the whole person and their needs was a privilege for inspectors and something I would encourage other services to learn from.”

Marie Cooper, practice development lead in care and clinical leadership, at the charity Hospice UK, said quality catering plays a vital role in palliative care. She said: “High quality catering in hospices is very important as meeting the nutritional needs and wishes of patients is a key strand of palliative care. Hospices provide holistic, person-centred care aimed at enhancing quality of life and wellbeing for people with life-limiting conditions. Catering in hospices reflects this approach and is responsive to patients’ individual needs. Good communication is key as hospice chefs talk directly with patients to establish how their needs and preferences can be met.

“Hospice caterers also need to be creative in coming up with solutions to ensure that patients can still enjoy their favourite foods. For example, people approaching the end of life can often experience appetite loss or other challenges such as difficulties swallowing, so some foods may need to be puréed or patients offered fruit-based liquid sprays or sorbets. Good caterers in hospices also recognise that the benefits of eating well presented, delicious food are not purely about sustenance but often can be just as nourishing for soul, mind and spirit.”

Hospice UK is running a series of webinars about nutrition in palliative care. For more information visit www.hospiceuk.org/what-we-offer/clinical-and-caresupport/nutritionin-palliative-care

Mouth-watering food is one of the best ways to help them to feel better

Country Range Group customer Rachel Vaughan, a cook at St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford, explains the importance of quality hospice catering: “Good food instantly changes the way we feel and increases our wellbeing and quality of life. A balanced diet helps maintain a strong immune system and is at the heart of our commitment to helping patients live every moment of life to its fullest. The hospice catering team takes care over every ingredient. Their expertise gives them the skills needed to create tasty dishes packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. At a time when patients can feel exhausted, fresh, mouth-watering food is one of the best ways to help them to feel better. It’s our job to prepare meals that people look forward to eating. Treatments like chemo- or radiotherapy can affect a patient’s tastebuds, and the cooks are asked for all kinds of different meals. When a patient is very ill, deciding what to eat can sometimes be the only thing they can choose to do for themselves that day. We’re also mindful that, until recently, many patients would have been the main family carer, so giving them the opportunity to request meals for their visiting loved ones gives them the comfort of knowing those they care about are being well looked after. It shows how much all hospice staff care about fulfilling a patient’s wishes and looking after the whole family.”