Following a report into end of life care published this week (The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) report Dying without Dignity), The Hospice of St Francis says closer working with local GPs, district nurses and hospitals, and increasing awareness of hospice services, in both the public and in healthcare professionals, are key to ensuring good end of life care is available to all in West Herts and Bucks.
“Hospice care is not just centred on our Hospice building,” said new CEO Steve Jamieson, “so much of what we do happens outside our walls and we want everyone living with a life-limiting illness to know how we can support them”.
“We’re already working well with West Herts NHS Trust to improve end of life care in local hospital wards which should prevent some of the deeply upsetting examples highlighted in the Dying without Dignity report,” he continued.
“We’ve been training hospital nursing staff in how to speak to patients who might be approaching death and have also started the Rose Project, which encourages all staff to be compassionate and respectful to patients who are dying.
“We’re also out in our community in people’s homes and care homes caring for 2,000 patients a year and regularly train GPs, district nurses and care home staff in how to talk to people about their wishes at the end of life.”
The percentage of people dying in hospices in England has nearly doubled over the last 20 years* and in the past, whilst most patients that died in hospices had cancer, now The Hospice of St Francis is looking after many more patients with a non-cancer diagnosis - including heart failure, respiratory disease and neurological disease.
“We want to break-down the myths surrounding hospice care and help spread the word about our services, whether it’s by doing talks in workplaces, on the high street or in the local pub,” Mr Jamieson continues.
“More people need to know that Hospices are happy places that help people enjoy a good quality of life, despite their illness. For example, we offer a whole range of free therapies at our Health & Wellbeing Spring Centre such as massage for relaxation and pain relief, plus exercise classes and support groups to improve confidence and quality of life.”
Mr Jamieson concludes, “Improving end of life care for all and shouting more about our services to reach more people in our community is our aspiration for The Hospice of St Francis and I look forward to a future where more people are able to access the same high standard of care at the end of life, whether that’s in a hospice, at home, in hospital or in a care home.”
Steve Jamieson is keen to hear from anyone about their experiences of end of life care in Herts and Bucks. You can meet him in person at 9-11am next Thursday (28th May) at the Kings Arms pub on Berkhamsted high street, or email with your stories, or questions, at ceo@Stfrancis.org.uk.
*Cicely Saunders Institute Report into changing demographics of hospice deaths from the Cicely Saunders Institute. May 2015