NHS and social care partners in Gloucestershire have made a commitment to transform experiences of palliative and end of life care by signing up to a countywide End of Life Care Strategy.

The strategy outlines the county’s promise to offer the highest possible quality of care and support to people who are dying. It also sets out an ambition to respond better to the wishes and needs of patients and their families in relation to where they would like to be cared for and where they would like to die.

NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) was recently one of two CCGs to be appointed to the NHS England End of Life Care Programme Board to represent commissioning.

Dr Hein Le Roux, Clinical Lead for End of Life Care at the CCG, said:

“Our aim is that everyone should experience a ‘good end to their life’.

We want to ensure that people are given the opportunity to express their preferences about where and how they are cared for, supported and die, and to make it possible for health and social care services to work together to enable their wishes to be met.

It is important for all of us providing end of life care to encourage people to talk about their choices, and to ensure that every individual is able, to the best of our ability and circumstances, to have the best death possible, and that their wishes are respected.

We also want to support families and carers during the difficult times both before and after their loved one’s death.”

The CCG and its partners, including the county’s hospices, care homes, community services and hospitals, have developed 12 key aims to ensure that people receive care that meets their individual needs.

These include ensuring that the many services people need are well coordinated, so that patients receive seamless care that meets their individual priorities, needs and preferences and that end of life care is appropriate, timely and communicated sensitively.

Another important area of work that will be taken forward is around Advanced Care Planning. This is a voluntary process of discussion and review which enables someone who has capacity to indicate their preferences and wishes for the future, meaning that their wishes can be identified, respected and adhered to.

Emma Husbands, Consultant Palliative Medicine at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (GHNHSFT) and Chair of the End of Life Care Quality Group, said:

“GHNHSFT are committed to working collaboratively with our countywide colleagues to address such a crucial aspect of all of our lives.

We have now distilled the twelve principles into a strategy to ensure that we embed all aspects of delivery of end of life care.

Death is a part of life and as organisations, staff and patients, we are working together to ensure that we enable personalised care to be as good as it can be right up to and including the end of life.”

Cllr Dorcas Binns, cabinet member for older people at Gloucestershire County Council and Vice Chair of the End of Life Strategy board said:

“Death is a subject we don’t talk about much, but everyone has to face at some point.

I want to make sure all professionals who look after people in their last days have the specialist training and skills they need to give the best quality care.”

Susan Field, Director of Nursing at Gloucestershire Care Services (GCS) NHS Trust said:

“GCS is committed to supporting people to live through life limiting conditions and illness and helping them and their families prepare for their death, helping people to die with dignity.

End of life care touches all parts of ours services, with our nurses being at the heart of care in the last days of life.  They work closely with the patient’s family, GP and specialist services to ensure that people are able to pass away with dignity, receiving compassionate bespoke care in the place of their choosing, surrounded by those who matter to them.  End of life care is multi-dimensional, providing holistic care including physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual support.

End of life care is provided in a range of settings which includes care in the community, such as community hospitals, within patient’s homes, care homes and hospices. Our Trust is committed to working collaboratively with countywide colleagues, to make sure that regardless of the care setting, the quality of care should be of the highest standard and compassionate care must be at the forefront, after all we only have one chance to get it right.”

End of Life Care is a priority within the Gloucestershire Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) and the publication of the strategy represents an important step in making improvements happen.

To read more about the STP and find out about how you can get involved, visit the STP website at: www.gloucestershireSTP.net