End of life care month: helping to ensure we are providing the best care and a 'dignified' death for patients nearing the end

Side of RRV with lozenge

End of life care. It’s a subject we can come across quite frequently and yet sometimes don’t know how to deal with.

This month we will be sharing clinical articles, how to guidance, podcasts and more, to help shed some light on this very sensitive topic.

 Area Clinical Lead Sarah Stead shares her views on the level of care we give to patients nearing the end - and why she has worked on a strategy that will help strengthen what we do.

I know how difficult it is for us on a daily basis when we get some calls or we arrive on scene and we know very little about a patient on an end of life care plan. We are expected to make decisions in a split second about the best care option or treatment for that patient.

So, last year I was given the task of writing an end of life strategy for the Trust. This was a subject area that at that time I knew a little about, but certainly wasn’t well informed. I felt there was a lot that needed to be done, so I started at the very beginning.

Firstly, I invited staff from around the Trust to an end of life focus group. I thought this was the best way to gather opinion about how well we think we manage end of life situations, issues or concerns that staff had, as well as identifying areas for improvement or which required clarity. We had a really good discussion about end of life care and I came away with a great long list of things which staff felt needed addressing.

The group has now met four times over the last 10 months, and during this we have discussed many aspects of end of life care. As part of the group we often welcome colleagues from external organisations who are experts in or have an interest in end of life care. This has included GPs, transformation leads from clinical commissioning groups, hospice educators and medical directors from hospices. It’s been great to have views from those who often work and support us.

We have collectively designed a flowchart to support staff when attending an end of life patient and a new clinical bulletin about anticipatory (or ‘just in case’) medications. These will be shared over the next few weeks.

The strategy is designed to focus on all staff groups and volunteers, with the aim of improving the confidence and knowledge of everyone through education and support.

So we decided that a good way to launch the strategy would be to have a focus month on end of life care. I hope you’ll find it useful. There are a whole host of things we have to share. Keep an eye on Need to Know and the Trust’s Facebook and Twitter pages. We will be sharing some things externally with the public as well to help get people talking more openly about end of life care and dying, as well as raising the profile of the great work we already do and the plans we have in place for the future.

Please get in touch with me if you have any questions or suggestions around end of life care month. I hope that we can all work together to improve our knowledge, support and confidence. And ultimately ensure that any patient who is at the end of their life and uses our service feels supported in their choice regarding end of life care, including resuscitation decisions and place of death. That we are able to alleviate pain and suffering, and help them to experience a ‘good’ and dignified death while providing families/carers support before and after death.


Published 6th April, 2017


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