End of life care for homeless people

The Care Quality Commission and Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health have published A second class ending: exploring the barriers and championing outstanding end of life care for people who are homeless.

This report draws on research findings which explored the challenges to palliative care for homeless people in London.  It explores homeless peoples’ views and experiences of palliative care and aims to understand how they believe support could be improved.  It includes a series of case studies and recommendations.

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Image source: http://www.cqc.org.uk

Key discussion points

  • The needs of homeless people are not well understood or considered by health and care services. Where services do exist, they are often fragmented and work in relative isolation.
  • These issues are exacerbated by a lack of training and support for frontline staff.
  • Identifying homeless people who may be dying is difficult. Involving homeless people in decisions about their treatment and care means striking the right balance between supporting them and respecting their individual choices.
  • Actively linking health care, social care, housing and voluntary services may improve the care options available.
  • Working together will help continuity of care – this needs a collaborative effort across services.
  • There must be a strategic, equality-led approach at a local level, delivering personalised care. We share examples of excellent primary care and specialist community services.
  • Hospices and primary care organisations in particular can play a key role in championing an equality-led approach.

Additional link: CQC press release

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Choice in end of life care

How the National End of Life Care Programme Board is delivering personalisation and choice in care for people at or near the end of life. | Department of Health

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This report sets out the progress the National End of Life Care Programme Board has made in implementing the government’s choice commitment.

The measures include:

  • supporting the roll-out of digital palliative and end of life care records to all areas by 2020
  • inspecting and rating NHS hospital and community services for end of life care
  • providing support to trusts to help them improve end of life care services
  • testing personal health budgets for people approaching the end of life to give them choice and control over their care
  • developing metrics to assess quality and experience in end of life care
  • working to change the nursing and medical undergraduate and postgraduate curricula to improve patient choice and quality of care

Full report: One Year On: The Government Response to the Review of Choice in End of Life Care

Passed away, kicked the bucket, pushing up daisies – the many ways we don’t talk about death

Talking about death and dying is taboo in many parts of the world. So it’s no wonder many people avoid talking about it. Or they struggle to find the right words | The Conversation

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Euphemisms have their place. But being able to talk openly (and clearly) about death and dying is important as it helps normalise death and avoids confusion.

If health professionals use euphemisms, they need to consider whether patients really understand what they’re trying to say.

And normalising death and dying (and communicating it) helps us prepare for the death of someone we love, or to find the right language to make the best choices for end-of-life care or for a funeral.

Read the full blog post here

People who are dying should be asked about their spiritual beliefs

NICE has published new guidance calling on healthcare professionals to ask adults in the final days of life about their religious or spiritual beliefs.

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Cultural preferences and spiritual beliefs should be included in discussions about the care a person, and those close to them, want to receive, says NICE.

Knowing if someone holds a religious belief can be important for providing the care they desire. For example, someone who is Catholic may wish to receive the last prayers and ministrations.

The 2016 End of Life Care Audit reported nearly half of all deaths in England occurred in hospital. Spiritual wishes were only documented for one in 7 people who were able to communicate their desires.

Read the full overview here

Read the full guidance here

Podcast: Supporting relatives and carers at the end of a patient’s life

Berry, M. et al. (2017) BMJ. 356:j367

  • Effective support can make a considerable difference to the relatives of people who are dying; helping to allay fears, reducing stress and anxiety, and minimising suffering in bereavement.

  • Clear communication around practical considerations (death certificate, funeral arrangements, information around autopsy, etc) and psychosocial support (normalising grief, cultural and spiritual considerations) is key.

  • Doctors need to familiarise themselves with local systems and protocols. Written communication in addition to verbal is beneficial.

All doctors, irrespective of their specialty or the setting in which they work, will care for patients who die. Around half of all deaths occur in hospitals.1 Evidence suggests that the quality of communication around this process is poorer in hospitals than in other settings, according to responses from relatives who have experienced bereavement.2 Over half of NHS complaints concern care of the dying.3

This article discusses how to best support relatives and carers at the end of a patient’s life. While the focus is on the hospital setting, the principles are applicable to community and care home settings. In this article, “relative” encompasses family members, care givers, and those close to the patient. The article presumes throughout that the patient has given consent for information to be shared with relatives (Box 1).

Read the full article here

End of life care for infants, children and young people

NICE has published new NICE guidance: End of life care for infants, children and young people with life-limiting conditions: planning and management (NG61).

This guideline covers the planning and management of end of life and palliative care in for infants, children and young people (aged 0–17 years) with life-limiting conditions. It aims to involve children, young people and their families in decisions about their care, and improve the support that is available to them throughout their lives.

Additional link: NICE news report

New go-to website for resources and learning in palliative and end of life care

Nicola Spencer introduces the enhanced Ambitions for Palliative and End of Life Care website which will be the new go-to place for resources and learning | NHS England

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Struggling to keep up to date and informed on changes impacting on palliative and end of life care? Not sure where to find the latest resources and improvement examples?

Then you will be pleased to hear we have launched a tailor made national End of Life Care (EoLC) Knowledge Hub providing you with a ‘one stop shop’ of palliative and EoLC information.

This hub provides anyone involved in the commissioning or provision of palliative and end of life care with a quick and easy way to source information, including helpful tools and resources to drive delivery of the Ambitions for Palliative and End of Life Care – a national framework for local action.

Read the full overview here

Find the website here