Palliative care network boosts staff skills

7 July 2011
A pioneering palliative care network led by St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich is helping improve the skills of care home staff.

Nearly 30 hospices in east Suffolk have joined the Hospice Care Homes Network, which runs study days for care home managers and staff. Areas covered include communication, symptom control, advance care planning, spiritual care and bereavement. St Elizabeth's community team also visit care homes to provide further training and support.

The network came about after care home managers told the hospice what their training needs were around end of life care for residents and their frustrations at getting it right.

Hospice Director of Patient Services, Verity Jolly, (pictured above, far right, with St Elizabeth's medical director Kelvin Bengtson and care home staff), said: “We wanted to base our work on what was important to the staff in the care homes so it has been a very collaborative process. Our Hospice at Home team have always supported care home residents needing palliative care and this has been additional help for them to implement the nationally recognised tools for good end of life care, regardless of the location."

St Elizabeth's has put together a Palliative Care Resource Pack which includes information about complementary therapies and how to discuss end of life care with residents.

An important part of the work, says Mrs Jolly, has been ensuring residents are given the opportunity to tell their carers what they want to happen if they are no longer able to communicate their wishes.

She said: “It’s about planning their own care, enabling them to say, ‘When I am dying, I don’t want to go to hospital’, or ‘I don’t want to be resuscitated’. Giving patients the right to choose is extremely important in end of life care.”

Pam Purnell, Social Care Manager of Crabbe Street Residential Care Home in Ipswich, which caters for residents with dementia, commended the initiative.

She said: “The guidance and support we have gained has been invaluable. I have been involved in the scheme from the very beginning and it has already gone from strength to strength. It has huge benefits for our residents, many of whom are nearing the end of their lives and to whom we obviously want to give the very best care."

The network is open to nursing or residential care homes in east Suffolk with more than ten residents. For more information, email joyce.dunachie@stelizabethhospice.org.uk or call 01473 727776.

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