Garden House Hospice Care is launching a "ground-breaking" new service that is set to reduce admissions to hospital through winter and tackle the issue of inequality of access to hospices.

From January 2, 2024, the Letchworth-based hospice will use its specialist skills in symptom control to support people living with frailty in its community. It will add capacity into the health system and save the NHS approximately £2million a year.

In the UK, hundreds of thousands of people have frailty, which means living with multiple conditions that require medication, impact a person’s ability to live independently and leave people vulnerable to health issues resulting in regular visits to GPs or A&E.

Regular symptoms experienced can include pain, depression or increasing falls, and minor health problems such as urinary tract infections can be harder to recover from. Frailty is believed to be one of the major public health challenges of the 21st century.

Meanwhile, people without cancer are still less likely to benefit from the services hospices provide.

At Garden House Hospice Care 70 per cent of it’s patients have cancer. Many of those failing to access hospices – thought to be at least 5,000 people in North Hertfordshire alone – have frailty.

To tackle the interconnecting issues, staff at the hospice have developed a new frailty service aimed at those with moderate to severe frailty. Informed by data and research, the service has the approval of the Hertfordshire and West Essex ICB. It is a first for hospices.

The Frailty Service delivered by Garden House Hospice Care will utilise the skills of the hospice’s clinicians to support people with frailty, see a nurse visiting A&E every day to identify patients who are eligible for their support either at home or in the hospice, launch an ambulatory service and ensure those living with frailty have a clear plan and pathway for support.

It will be provided free of charge and the charity is launching a fundraising appeal to raise the £300,000 it needs to fund the service until March 2024.

This cost covers the additional beds its opening and expansion of the community team to meet the need.

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“It is a success story of modern medicine and our society that people are living longer. But it does mean people are living with more diseases,” said Lisa Hunt, chief executive of Garden House Hospice Care.

“By the age of 60, some of us can have as many as eight health conditions, including asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure or heart failure, and often they do not know where to turn.

"It is therefore an inevitable side effect of a system where people with frailty are not being supported, that it’s the frail often blamed for bed blocking and filling up A&E every winter. We can, and should, help to reduce this pressure.

“Meanwhile, we are failing to reach people early enough, a lot of those are people with frailty and it’s a gap we are eager to close. Every day is precious, and every day someone is waiting for us - having been told they have no further treatment for their condition - is too long. Within that time we know that they can feel afraid, lost, frightened.

“This service is bold, it’s ambitious, but it’s clearly and thoughtfully planned and we believe in it. The modern hospice movement first arose to serve an unmet need. There is a new unmet need, and it is time for us to evolve again.”

Community launch event for the frailty service

Staff from Garden House Hospice Care are inviting the public to join them at Pitcher and Piano in Hitchin from 10am to 12pm on Monday, December 4, to find out more about our frailty service.

As well as formal talks there will be information stands and opportunities to ask questions and find out more about this exciting new chapter for the Hospice. Hot drinks will be available for purchase.

You can find out more about the frailty service and fundraising appeal by visiting