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Ashgate Hospice > Disability History Month 2022: Equality in hospice care – by Matt Corbishley 

Ashgate’s Director of People and Performance, Matt Corbishley, writes about the inequalities in accessing palliative and end of life care and what Ashgate is doing to address this. 

At Ashgate, we believe everyone has the right to high-quality care and support at the end of their lives. We want Ashgate to be open to everyone who needs us, and we are working to understand how we can improve this. 

Sadly, we know that inequalities of access exist and that we must do more to ensure our values of inclusivity, respect, and openness are upheld.

At Ashgate, we are taking strides to remove the barriers to accessing our care whilst informing and educating our staff and volunteers. This stretches right across our hospice offering from those visiting us in one of our shops to a patient staying with us in our Inpatient Unit.  

An approach we have taken to strengthen our understanding of disability is to use the ‘social model’. The social model of disability is the understanding that disability is something created by barriers in society, not by an individual’s impairment or difference. These barriers can be physical, like buildings not having accessible toilets, or they can be caused by people’s attitudes and assumptions about disabled people. Here at Ashgate, we are taking several steps to remove barriers and improve disability access and inclusion for everyone.  

Firstly, we have begun work at our site at Old Brampton which will see a new accessible entrance created. The new entrance will allow patients, families, visitors, and colleagues to access facilities such as our counselling rooms and café more comfortably. 

On the new entrance, Jane Cooper, Director of Access for All UK, said: “The alterations at Ashgate’s Old Brampton site will enable both disabled patients and visitors to access the building with ease. It will alleviate the current problems experienced due to a lack of level access into the building and will mean that disabled people feel both considered and supported from the moment they arrive, during their visit and, where appropriate, throughout their healthcare journey.” 

We have also strengthened our partnerships with other healthcare organisations, including MacIntyre; a charity supporting and empowering people with learning disabilities. Together, we are developing initiatives to improve the experience of those accessing our services. This includes easy-read advance care planning, Makaton training, and educating our workforce to ensure they have a greater understanding of the needs of patients or families with learning disabilities. 

Removing the barriers that disabled people may face when seeking employment at Ashgate Hospice is another area we have been working hard to improve. This includes a better understanding of our workforce through data capture.  

This will provide us with insight into how many of our staff members and volunteers have a disability, and crucially we hope to see an increase in people feeling comfortable sharing this information. We can then make sure our working culture, practices, and policies meet the needs of those staff and volunteers.  

In addition, Ashgate Hospice is signed up to the government’s Disability Confident scheme which supports employers to make the most of the skills disabled people can bring to the workplace. We are looking at a range of measures such as working with local Disability Employment Advisors to make further positive changes to our recruitment processes and enhancing our training and work experience opportunities for people with a disability. 

At Ashgate, we are proud of the high-quality care we provide and are committed to being an open and inclusive organisation. We aim to provide an environment where everyone feels safe and has a sense of belonging, but we know there is a lot of work to do, with over 22% of the UK population having a disability. We are committed to better understanding the challenges faced by the disabled community, improving work opportunities, and enhancing the wellbeing and health of the disabled community.