Pioneering project - a collaboration between the hospice and local care homes

22 April 2012

The hospice is constantly striving to extend its reach within the community and to support more people who are coming to the end of their lives.

People in care homes have recently been the focus of an innovative new project. The Hospice is the first in the North West to introduce the post of 'Advance Care Planning Facilitator for Care Homes'. 

The role has been developed to train and support care home staff in helping residents to plan for their future.  It includes encouraging them to discuss their wishes and preferences for future care; and planning for the time when they are nearing the end of their life. Staff who are well trained feel confident to have these difficult conversations and to support their residents at the end of life without the need for an emergency hospital admission.

Pioneering project

Debbie Dempsey, the new hospice facilitator, says, "Many of us tend to put off planning for the later stages of our life.  With this project we hope to generate a culture of learning and talking about care planning.  An increasing number of people are going into care homes with a range of medical and psychological conditions, including those coming to the end of their life.  The Hospice recognises the importance of supporting care home staff in ensuring the best possible care for their residents and we hope the benefits of this project will be felt by all residents in local care homes."

Debbie has already visited every nursing home in the borough to promote the project. Nursing and care homes have many dedicated staff who recognise that they need some support and training in this area. It's a subject often 'swept under the carpet', but one that is crucially important to us all.

Marion Donlan is a clinical manager at Bedford Care Home in Leigh.  She says, "It's a great idea.  Debbie came to us with four training sessions on advanced care planning.  All the staff really enjoyed the sessions and learned so much. Her advice is now being actively practised here and is making such a difference.

Before this training, the subject of end of life care was often avoided because staff were unsure of how to deal with the delicate issues involved. Staff, residents and families are now actively encouraged to participate in dialogue on this difficult subject.  We know that we can contact Debbie at anytime for specific advice and support." 

The Hospice has also set up a 'best practice group' for advance care planning in care homes and a quarterly forum at the Hospice for staff to share their experiences.

Debbie concludes, "We are also encouraging care homes to have an 'open day' or event, to discuss these issues with residents and family members together; in the hope that it will break down some barriers, as well as educate and prevent upset. We are committed to supporting such events when required."

This project is just the start - over time the Hospice team would like to see "advance care planning" being adopted in all settings across the Borough so that people die with dignity in the setting of their choosing, supported by a well trained and dedicated workforce. This is a wonderful example of the hospice spreading its reach to more people within the local community.

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