Getting quality assurance right in hospices

Categories: Education.

Hosted on 1 November 2013 by Help the Hospices and chaired by national clinical lead, Heather Richardson, the event provided an opportunity for hospice leaders to consider learning from major national inquiries and to help shape plans for future work by Help the Hospices and their members in response.

The early sessions of the day focused on lessons from the Mid Staffordshire Hospital Inquiry and the national review of the Liverpool Care Pathway.

Presentations by Helen Causley, policy advisor to the Francis Implementation Team at the Department of Health, and Sarah Waller, who served on the panel to review the Liverpool Care Pathway, described the poor quality of care experienced by many at the end of life and the emerging recommendations.

Both speakers urged hospices to review their own care in the light of the recommendations and to consider how they might support colleagues in hospital and other settings to improve the quality of care they provide, including bereavement support.

Statutory role

A presentation by Jo Pope, safeguarding lead at Rowcroft Hospice, confirmed the statutory role of hospices in identifying people who are at risk of abuse, how they work most effectively with local authority colleagues and their reporting processes within the hospice.

Later in the day, delegates considered how hospices ensure the safety of their users.

Gill Horne, quality assurance lead at Help the Hospices made a strong case for work to review how effective they are in keeping their patients safe.

She and Claire Newton, clinical informatics officer at Dorothy House introduced a proposed benchmarking tool to assess the safety of inpatients admitted to children and adult hospices, incorporating falls, pressure ulcers and medication incidents.

Pauline Flanagan, Chair of the Help the Hospices National Quality Assurance Group and clinical governance manager at Douglas Macmillan Hospice described the PLACE (Patient led assessment of the care environment) audit – which engages users to review the physical environment of the hospice.

She said that PLACE has been very constructive at Douglas Macmillan Hospice, a view endorsed by others in the group who had also used the audit tool. Some suggestions were also made about how the process could be further improved, for example engaging local Health Watch members in the audit.

Defining quality 

Finally, Gill Horne described the findings of a consultation process to define quality in hospice care based on 62 responses.

The proposed domains are patient, family and public experience, patient safety, effectiveness, structure and process of care and environment. Further work is required to gain consensus on the characteristics of high quality care by hospices.

During the course of the day, delegates offered ideas about how Help the Hospices could further support quality assurance by hospices. 

The national charity welcomed feedback from others about whether a network would be useful for registered managers, clinical governance leads and similar and any other national strategic support required.  

To find out more about the benchmarking tool and to register to be involved contact:

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