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Hospices have an important part to play in the lives of people with dementia
  1. Marie Cooper
  1. Practice Development Lead, Hospice UK, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Marie Cooper, m.cooper{at}hospiceuk.org

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Dementia is now one of the biggest global public health challenges facing our generation and one which is emerging as a new challenge to those who are involved in end-of-life care provision (European Association for Palliative Care, 2013).

There is overwhelming evidence of unmet need for this group of people and an urgent call to redress the poor care towards the end of life that people with dementia experience because of their diagnosis (Ryan et al, 2012). Such a situation brings into focus the challenge some leaders of care services need to face as they question the position they may currently hold of perhaps ‘doing nothing’ or limiting access to care due to diagnosis—now colloquially titled ‘diagnosis apartheid’ practice.

Dementia is starting to emerge as a key issue for consideration by hospices as they identify their strategic direction and priorities for the future. While few people challenge the belief that dementia is a life-limiting illness, it has struggled to be accorded the same degree of service provision from within the palliative care domain as other life-limiting illnesses. To date, the overall investment by hospices in response to dementia has been relatively small. It has been inhibited by concerns about impact on resources and a number of other perceived challenges such as lack of expertise and confidence to assess and meet the care needs of the person …

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