The publication of the Royal College of Physicians report into end of life care today has led to media reports about issues relating to end of life care in hospitals. The Hospice of St Francis is pleased to have been working in partnership with West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust for a number of years, and together we have introduced a number of innovations to improve care for patients admitted to Watford Hospital who are nearing the end of life. In the last twelve months, significant improvements have been made.
Hospice CEO Steve Jamieson comments, “Our aspiration is for the same level of care to be available to all at the end of life whether you are cared for in a hospice, in hospital, at home or care home and whatever your life circumstances or background. To this end, the Hospice is doing all it can to share its expertise with its local community.”
Hospice Medical Director, Dr Sharon Chadwick is working closely with the NHS Trust to implement a new approach to end of life care across the whole organisation that includes:
- the introduction of individualised care plans
- the implementation of an education programme for staff
- helping patients to discuss, record and achieve their preferred place of death when the time comes.
These initiatives also encourage health and care staff to communicate clearly, compassionately, regularly and sensitively with a person who is identified as dying, and their loved ones. The staff ensure that patients’ clinical, nutritional, social, spiritual and practical needs are met, and regularly reviewed.
Mr Jamieson continues, “Better education is a big part of getting end of life care right and the Hospice is helping hospital staff feel confident in responding appropriately to these patients and their loved ones.”
Dr Sharon Chadwick, Medical Director at The Hospice of St Francis adds, “Huge improvements have already been made and I am heartened by the appetite to get things right at Watford Hospital, particularly with regards to kindness and compassion for the dying. Providing excellent end of life care is now definitely seen as a key priority by the Trust, with both the Executive team and the Board giving their full support to this work.
“Looking after people at the end of life is a huge privilege and experience shows that keeping a patient, and their loved ones, informed, and involved, in their care decisions at every step of the way delivers that consistency in care and a good death that we all strive for.”