24/7 phone line launched for end of life patients

Categories: Care.

SinglePoint aims to offer improved coordination and continuity of care for patients identified to be in their last year of life.  

And as well as the new single telephone number, the service will also coordinate responsive out-of-hours nursing care for people in the community who are in the last three months of their life and provide a locality-wide end of life register for patients in the last year of life.

Known as My Care Choices Register, the register will record decisions about the type of care the individual would like to receive as they approach the end of their life, and also the preference of where they would like to die. It will also hold key information about the individual’s diagnosis, condition and the medical treatment they are receiving.

The register is held online and can be accessed securely only by staff responsible for the individual’s care, such as the GP, the ambulance service, the hospital, community nurses and St Helena Hospice.

“A collaborative service”

Ray Wilson, director of patient and family services at St Helena Hospice said: “We have been working on the development of this service for over two years so it is incredibly exciting to see it come to fruition. Members of the working group have worked closely to ensure a collaborative service with the patient at its core. 

“The service is jointly funded by the local NHS and St Helena Hospice. Without our financial contribution such an ambitious and comprehensive service would not have been possible. We believe the new service is a great example of the added benefit the charity and voluntary sector can bring working with the NHS.”

SinglePoint was formed in response to the government’s 2008 End of Life Care Strategy, which recommended provision of care 24 hours a day, seven days a week which can be easily accessed and responsive to all palliative and end of life care patients regardless of their place of care. 

In order to make these recommendations a reality, a cross-organisation group was formed in 2011 with representation from the North East Essex CCG, Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, Anglian Community Enterprise and St Helena Hospice, and funding was secured from the North East Essex CCG.

Dr James Hickling, medical director at the CCG added: “I am very pleased that patients and families will now start to benefit. SinglePoint’s phone service and related improvements will make life easier – simpler and more reliable – for people at the end of their lives.

“I believe our investment, together with that of St Helena Hospice, will allow people more choice and dignity at the end of their lives, and will enable health services to do a better job of supporting each person, and their family, to state their wishes and have them carried out.”

The SinglePoint service and My Care Choices Register are both hosted by St Helena Hospice at their Highwoods, Colchester site. SinglePoint works collaboratively with other services, such as those from GPs, community nurses and specialists to ensure there is high quality coordinated care. 

Lauren Smith is a team leader for the specialist palliative care team at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust. She can see the potential benefits of the streamlined service: “Here at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, we are looking forward to working with the new SinglePoint service.

“Patients are sometimes admitted to hospital unnecessarily at the end of their lives when their preference is to die at home. This service will help to streamline and coordinate care so that patients who do not require hospital admission are able to stay at home if that is their wish.”

Homecare expansion

As part of the introduction of the service, St Helena Hospice is also expanding the remit of its Hospice at Home team.  

The current Hospice at Home offering provides care for patients in the last month of life. Likely to launch in November, the enhanced provision will give care for patients and support for families in the last three months of life over the 24 hour care period. It will be made up of qualified nurses who are trained in palliative care and assistant nurses who provide personal care. 

The telephone number for the SinglePoint helpline is 01206 890360

To find out more you can visit the St Helena Hospice website.

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