St Catherine’s Hospice supports care homes this winter
Elderly people are benefitting from an innovative project lead by St Catherine’s Hospice across Lancashire this winter.
The Lostock Hall charity – which provides palliative and end-of-life care at the hospice and in people’s own homes – also offers specialist training and education to healthcare professionals, and has launched a new Winter Pressures Support Programme for care homes to help improve residents’ quality of life towards the end of life.
The new initiative is supporting more than 500 elderly residents across 12 care homes in Preston, Chorley and South Ribble through virtual training and in-house support, and also aims to reduce the number of unnecessary hospital admissions and GP visits to care homes.
Lisa Hall, acting general manager at Finney House care home in Preston which has signed up to the scheme, said: “The course is really beneficial to our staff and residents. It’s really important for us to ensure that our knowledge about end-of-life care is up-to-date and that we understand all of the different pathways and options available to someone who is at the end of life, as well as the resources available to us to continue our learning and development.
“We’ve never had the chance to be part of such a big programme before, and St Catherine’s has such a great reputation for offering superb training to healthcare providers. We’re getting so much out of it, such as recognising when someone is at the end of life so we can give them the best possible experience, and learning about what measures to put in place with them like appointing lasting powers of attorney. It’s about practical measures as well as speaking with residents about their wishes.
“We’re really engaged and are enjoying the training – it’s really put the fire in our bellies and we’re hoping to explore more training opportunities in future.”
The Winter Pressures Support Programme sees St Catherine’s clinical educators host three months of virtual education sessions, as well as a dedicated palliative care nurse visiting the care homes over a further six months to provide individualised advice and practical support for patients, families and staff.
Areas covered include knowing when to admit someone to hospital, managing common end-of-life symptoms, bereavement and family support, dementia care and future planning. It’s being funded by ‘Winter Pressures’ funding from the Integrated Care System and Clinical Commissioning Groups.
Debbie Bolton, Head of Clinical Education at St Catherine’s, explained: “Our aim is to help more people experience quality of life to the end of life, and our vision involves sharing our expertise with others so that we can reach and help even more people.
“We host a range of study sessions from the hospice – using Microsoft Teams at the moment due to the pandemic – to empower other healthcare professionals to understand and adopt the principles of palliative and end of life care. The aim of the Winter Pressures Support Programme is to increase the confidence, knowledge and skills of care home staff so they can integrate these practices into their everyday routines and make a meaningful difference to people’s lives, helping residents to be comfortable and achieve what is important to them in the time that they have.”
Debbie added: “This is the first time we have done something on this scale and we have developed the training package from scratch to suit the needs of our communities in the current climate, helping to keep people out of hospital and enabling them to create special memories with their loved ones whilst receiving the best possible quality of care.
“Advance Care Planning is particularly important and is something we’re really keen to raise awareness about; it’s about working with people to establish their future preferences and how they want to spend their final months, weeks, days and hours – in case they are unable to tell us in the future.
“It could be small details which will bring them comfort like what music they want to listen to, or it could be something significant like where they would prefer to die – at home or in a hospice for example – and how they want to be honoured and remembered. It’s about encouraging people to record their wishes so that carers, healthcare providers and loved ones can all be reassured that they are acting in the person’s best interest when the time comes.”
St Catherine’s is also continuing to roll out its Gold Standards Framework (GSF) programme for care homes, after becoming a Regional Training Centre for the accreditation last year.
Debbie said: “Training for 13 care homes started in January and we’re helping staff to identify the needs of residents at each stage of their life; assess their wishes and preferences; and to plan care which enables them to live and die well with dignity. The framework also aims to improve collaboration with GPs and to reduce the number of hospital admissions in the final stage of life.
“It fits perfectly with the St Catherine’s Hospice Compassionate Communities approach, which encourages people to look at death and dying differently; to embrace it and to think of ways to help themselves, their friends, family, colleagues and neighbours to talk about sensitive and important subjects; to not be afraid to open up difficult conversations; to support people through grief; and to be better prepared for the future.”
Amanda Hodgson, clinical manager at Kendal Care Home, who is signed up for the GSF course, said: “We provide a lot of end-of-life care and symptom management and we want to achieve GSF accreditation so that we can evidence the level of care we offer. It gives the nursing and care teams a structured framework to work towards and also reassures families that we are striving to provide the best possible care to their loved ones.
“The training from St Catherine’s is empowering our staff with information and tools so that we can adopt a whole-home approach of personalised, high quality care whilst promoting choice at the end of life.”
- The St Catherine’s website also hosts a range of resources available to all members of the public such as advice about bereavement, advance care planning, support for carers, coping with isolation, Covid-related support and more. Please click here for more information.
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