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Improving End of Life care

05 February 2017

Health Care

Southend University Hospital has employed a new part-time End of Life Care Facilitator, Carly Wigmore, to help support and train staff who talk and work with patients on wards in the last year of their life.

Carly, who previously worked in Oncology Outpatients, is working in collaboration with the Palliative Care Team to enhance skills in caring for patients with end of life care needs. She said: "My role is to provide clinical development and support for staff on the wards, working alongside them to develop new Advance Care Planning (ACP) and End of Life (EOL) skills to help those patients.

"It's an important role that helps staff talk to patients about difficult subject matters and means that Southend Hospital staff work better with patients at the end of their life, which includes recording their wishes. Staff take the time to speak to individual patients about their needs and care wishes, ensuring those wishes are highlighted and addressed.

"Support for families is also a very important aspect and we offer free car parking, comfort bags - emergency toilet bags for relatives - and we have received a charitable donation to purchase an increased number of overnight beds for use by relatives on wards."

This all helps ensure the patients' and their families' experience of the hospital's services is a good one at a most important and challenging time in their lives. The stroke, neurology and elderly care wards and Respiratory Unit are linked to a Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) in each area for educational support and to help guide staff clinically, especially in having difficult conversations with patients and families.

The Palliative Care CNS team now supports patients seven days a week with consultants covering five days a week year round.

Carly added: "Windsor Ward are just one example of a team embracing the Gold Standards Framework, which forms part of the hospital's End of Life care strategy. Deputy Ward Managers, Lucy Hollings and John Radley, are doing an excellent job in leading their staff to work with and plan care for patients in their last year of life.

"It is recognised that up to 33% of in patients in a general hospital are in the last year of life, but this is poorly identified and addressed. Windsor Ward are currently identifying at least 30% of their patients who have ACP needs and are coordinating that planning.

"We want to get this service right to ensure we give both patients and relatives peace of mind at such a difficult time."