MARIE Curie have launched a new campaign highlighting the growing demand for high quality palliative care for the ageing population in Wales. 
The charity say end of life care must be a priority for the incoming Welsh Government now more than ever, and is calling on all political parties to include a plan for a new end of life care strategy in their manifestos for the upcoming Welsh election.
Marie Curie says that by 2040, demand for palliative care is set to increase by 42 per cent*, with a rapidly growing and ageing population, combined with an increase in comorbidities, meaning that providing high quality and specialised care is becoming increasingly important.
The organisation provides expert care and support to thousands of people living with a terminal illness, and their loved ones, in its Cardiff and the Vale Hospice in Penarth and in their own homes across Wales.   
The charity also provides telephone and online support to patients, their families or people who have been bereaved through its award-winning Information and Support service, and also offers bereavement support across Wales through the Bereavement Companions service.  
Lowri Griffiths, Marie Curie Head of Policy and Public Affairs in Wales, said: “Dying, death and bereavement are unavoidable and an inevitability that every individual will face as part of the cycle of life.   
“Under the most tragic circumstances, Covid-19 has brought all of this to the forefront of the nation’s attention and issues surrounding how, where and why people die have become more familiar to us all. 
“Despite this, death remains a taboo subject with many people reluctant to have open conversations about what matters most at the end of life.”
Lowri added that to improve the experience of those living with a terminal illness, their families and carers, the next Welsh Government must assert end of life care as a key focus for the next Parliamentary term.
“Coronavirus has both highlighted and exacerbated many challenges faced by those who use palliative care services, and those working within the field,” she added. 


“Never has it been more important to have a well-resourced health and social care service, with a workforce that feels supported and equipped to deliver accessible and value-based end of life care.”
The three priority areas and specific actions the charity is calling all political parties to include in their manifestos are: 
• Welsh Government and NHS Wales must ensure equitable access to palliative care services 
• The Welsh Government and statutory partners must identify and meet expectations of everyone approaching the end of their life
• The Welsh Government and statutory partners must oversee the delivery of a person-centred and universal bereavement service in Wales 
Sian Tucker, Marie Curie acting Clinical Nurse Manager for the Cardiff and the Vale Hospice at Home service, said: “Every patient we have gone into both during the first wave and now during this second wave, have been really poorly and deteriorated really quickly.  
“Everyone involved is doing the best they can, it’s just difficult with current manpower in (all) the health services, people are shielding, or they’re in self-isolation, and that makes it even more difficult when services are stretched.    Covid has had a huge impact.” 
Lesley Bethell, Chair of Compassionate Cymru and Patient and Public Representative at the End of Life Care Implementation Board, said the impact of good end of life services and support contribute to the wellbeing of everyone involved in someone’s death.  She added: “In Wales we can and do deliver the best end of life care to some who need and benefit from it, but the harms which result to those who are unable to access this are not always apparent.    In my role and in my own life experience I am well aware of the awful consequences when services and support fail. 
“Few of us are comfortable with talk around death and dying, but a government must shoulder the responsibility for the wellbeing of its population at all stages of their lives, and all of us will die. 
"It is imperative that the Government now places this issue firmly at the core of its care for us and devotes a greater proportion of resource to this issue. It is a matter which has caused great pain for so many, especially during the pandemic, as we deal with one of the two common experiences we all share.”