A new approach to improve the way people are cared for in the last year of their lives is being developed at Kettering General Hospital.
The aim is to help individuals – and families - to make informed choices about how they, or a loved one, are cared for and supported – in hospital or at home – over that period.
The new approach involves:
- adopting a new end of life strategy at Kettering General Hospital
- working with Macmillan Cancer Support to put in place new guidance to implement best practice care for the dying patient
- developing a champion system whereby the hospital supports and trains staff to champion good end of life processes. This will ensure that dying patients at the hospital are recognised in a timely way and receive an individualised care plan consistent with best practice guidance
- enhancing staff education and training for end of life care
To help co-ordinate this work Sarah Parry, who has 12 years of experience as a Macmillan palliative care nurse specialist, has been appointed to the role of Macmillan transformation lead nurse for end of life care at the hospital.
She said: “I’m passionate about developing excellent end of life care and will be working closely with staff from across the trust to achieve this.
“End of life is care about identifying people who are in that final stage and then very carefully and sensitively establishing what they – and their relatives – feel they need by way of support and preparation.
“It can be about the best ways of controlling complex symptoms, having that difficult conversation about where someone wants to die, and about ensuring that care is planned alongside support in the community.
“Some people may not want to know when they are going to die – but in our experience most individuals and families want to plan and prepare.
“The outcome we are looking for will be well trained hospital staff working closely with patients and their families around this sensitive subject in such a way that the end of life care experience is the best that it can be.”
Good care may include staff using easy to understand words, in a consistent way, so that patients and families are not confused by medical terminology.
It could include discussions about what personal items – and people – a person wants with them at end of life.
Sarah said: “The project will achieve a model of improved leadership, expertise and practice development to support people requiring access to end of life care at Kettering General Hospital.
“It will work across organisational boundaries and structures to ensure delivery of an integrated service which puts the patient at the centre.
“It is essential to embed end of life care as ‘business as usual’ – to make it everyone’s business.”
Kay Atkinson, Macmillan’s development manager for Northamptonshire, said: “Macmillan is actively supporting Kettering General Hospital in transforming end of life care by funding this new innovative end of life transformation lead post for two years.
“In addition, we will be working closely with the trust by being an active member of the end of life forum and working alongside KGH, internal and external key stakeholders across Northamptonshire to achieve new ways of working.”
Currently in Northamptonshire about 51 per cent of people die in hospital.
Each year at Kettering General Hospital there are circa 1,100 deaths with 25 per cent of these attributed to cancer.
The majority of deaths occur following a period of chronic illness such as respiratory disease or heart disease.