Teams from six wards at three acute trusts have been praised for their efforts to deliver personalised end of life care, including enabling more people to die at home and plan their final days.
The winning hospital teams were presented with quality awards, after receiving training and support through a national scheme aimed at driving up standards in end of life care.
“This is an important step for all of our patients and illustrates the dedication of our staff”
The Gold Standards Framework (GSF) programme is designed to help frontline nurses and doctors meet the needs of patients in the final year of life in line with key goals set out in the recently published NHS Long Term Plan.
Teams from six different wards at the three trusts completed the programme and received a GSF Quality Hallmark Award, with managers already reporting a noticeable difference in the quality of care provided to patients and families at the most difficult time.
Awards went to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.
Wards taking part in the GSF acute hospitals programme included Nell Gwynne and Ron Johnson wards at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and Kew and Lampton wards at West Middlesex Hospital – all part of Chelsea and Westminster FT.
Teams from Sunrise Ward at Queen’s Hospital in Romford and Ward 9 at Furness General Hospital completed the group – both receiving the quality mark for the second time.
“They are making tangible improvements in end of life care provision for patients and their families”
The programme saw staff take part in six training workshops, undertake a number of online evaluations, compile a portfolio of evidence and receive a visit from the GSF assessment team.
Trusts said the programme, which places a particular emphasis on advance care planning, had led to changes in practice.
“All the staff from the domestics and healthcare assistants through to the nurses and doctors all understand the importance of end of life care and GSF has helped them to establish, understand and fulfil the wishes of the patients and their families – exactly what we’re striving to do,” said Heather Wright, palliative care team leader at Barking, Havering and Redbridge.
“There’s a real attention to detail and commitment to go the extra mile to make patients and their families feel comfortable,” she said.
Meanwhile, all four wards at Chelsea and Westminster saw an increase in the number of patients identified as being in the last year of life, enabling better care planning.
Professor Mark Nelson, consultant physician at the trust, said he had noticed a real difference.
“This is an important step for all of our patients and illustrates the dedication of our staff – from clinicians, to allied health professionals, ward clerks and support staff – to providing compassionate care for those nearing the end of their life,” he said.
“I can already see the difference GSF is making on Ron Johnson ward, having improved dramatically what can all too often be a challenging and upsetting time for patients, relatives and indeed the staff themselves,” he added.
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The long-term plan for the NHS in England emphasises the need to provide personalised end of life care, including “proactive and personalise care planning for everyone identified as being in their last year of life”.
British Geriatrics Society chief executive Sarah Mistry, who presented the quality awards at a ceremony in London, praised the six ward teams for leading the way.
“Staff in all these hospitals should be congratulated for being front-runners in embedding the principles of the newly published NHS Long Term Plan ahead of time,” she said.
“They are making tangible improvements in end of life care provision for patients and their families,” she added.