Staff across the system are committed to maintaining this high standard for all patients and service users, especially those entering the last weeks and months of their lives.
This commitment supports the current nationwide Dying Matters Awareness Week (May 11 – 17), run by national hospice and palliative care charity Hospice UK.
Caring for a loved one at the end of their life can be distressing and overwhelming for families and carers. The theme of the week for 2020 is ‘Dying To Be Heard’ and aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of their life.
Jo Greengrass is Associate Director of Nursing (Quality & Safety) for the Frimley Collaborative - the group of NHS organisations which plans and funds the majority of health services for the area’s 800,000 people.
She said: “During this challenging period of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is our priority to continue to ensure patients across East Berkshire, North East Hampshire and Farnham and Surrey Heath are getting the best possible palliative care and support services.
“Our top priority is to continue to ensure patients get the care they need and treat our patients with dignity, respect and compassion as they reach the end of their lives. We continue to treat each person as an individual and listen to them so that we can understand their care needs and wishes.”
Across the ICS health and social care partners are working together in the community to support people, their carers and families to be able to talk about dying and make plans for their care. This includes teams of local GPs, district nursing teams, specialist palliative care teams, the local hospices, local authority Intermediate Care Teams, social care, ambulance services and community pharmacies.
Jo Greengrass added: “It isn’t easy to talk about death, but it’s important that we all do. I hope many people will take advantage of this chance to talk about a difficult topic in a friendly and supportive way.
“We are receiving amazing support from our voluntary and community sector partners, providing practical and emotional support to people in the local community.
“Our GPs, district nurses and other healthcare professionals are having honest conversations with people and their families about their future treatment. This is important as people are only able to make the right choices if they have the facts.”
An information booklet has been put together as part of the ongoing efforts to support families and carers.
The booklet provides information to help carers and families on what to expect when looking after someone who is very ill and near the end of life, what signs and symptoms to look out for and provides practical information to help make the person being cared for more comfortable. It also has information for carers on how to look after themselves as carers and signposting to local help available from local volunteers.
People are encouraged to think about and record their wishes for the end of their life in an Advance Care Plan. In this plan a person can record preferences such as where they would like to be cared for, who they would like with them and, if need be, who they would like consulted on their behalf, as well as their religious or spiritual beliefs. The Advance Care Plan informs healthcare professionals involved in a person’s care of their wishes and they will make every effort to respect and provide care and treatment accordingly.
The Information booklet, which contains details of key healthcare staff such as the district nurses and local hospice, is being distributed to people at home. This work is being carried out by local district nurses and community teams at Thames Hospice and Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice. GPs and the local council’s social care teams will also have electronic copies. The booklet is also available to download from the Frimley Health and Care website.