Gold Standards Framework continues to transform care for patients nearing end of life

Categories: Education.

Nursing and residential homes

Nurses and other care staff in nursing and residential homes are delivering better, more personalised care for their residents, thanks to the Gold Standards Framework (GSF), according to the leading nurse in the sector.

A further 14 homes will today (27 March) receive Quality Hallmark Awards from the National GSF Centre, bringing to almost 500 the number to have received this accreditation for their end of life care. Additionally, 34 homes have been reaccredited three years after their first award.

The awards, recognised by all of the major care home associations, the Royal College of General Practitioners, National Skills Academy and the Care Quality Commission, are presented to organisations that demonstrate a high standard of care for people approaching the end of life.

Commenting on the latest round of awards, Amanda Cheesley, Royal College of Nursing End of Life Care lead, said:

“As nurses, we have a huge responsibility caring for people at the end of their lives. GSF training empowers staff by providing them with the skills and knowledge to be more confident in their decisions and in their communication with the people for whom they care. This is helping create a more satisfied and fulfilled workforce delivering better coordinated more personalised care for thousands of care home residents.”

Hospice partnerships

Hospices play a big role in disseminating the GSF training, with several acting as regional GSF centres in order to cascade best practice and quality care throughout a locality.

Weldmar Hospice in Dorset, Pilgrims Hospice in Canterbury, Arthur Rank Hospice in Cambridge,
Cotswold Care in Gloucestershire and St Mary’s Birmingham are the latest hospices to become regional centres, bringing the total to 12.

Existing GSF regional centres like St Francis in Romford have already had a hugely positive impact, spreading best practice to a huge range of other providers in the area. In the past year St Francis has delivered the GSF training programme to dozens of care homes, hundreds of domiciliary care workers as well as a number of GP practices in three East London boroughs, Barking, Havering and Redbridge.

Caroline Scates, Head of Education at St Francis, said: “We are very positive about how this training changes processes and systems that improve end of life care and then further impact on the identification of those in need of care and thus reducing the chance of hospitalisation towards the end of life.”

Acute hospitals

Meanwhile, wards in two acute hospitals have become the first in the UK to be recognised for their care for patients nearing the end of their lives.

The two wards at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and one at Royal Lancaster, part of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, are the first to be accredited by the National GSF Centre.

All three wards at the two hospitals demonstrated key improvements to the quality of care for all patients in the final year, months, weeks and days of life, the coordination of their care as well as, crucially, enabling more people to live and die at home if that is their choice.

Yeo and Yarty wards at Royal Devon and Exeter, oncology and haematology wards respectively, and Ward 23 at Royal Lancaster Infirmary, a stroke ward, provided evidence of measurable change to the way they systematically organise their care, and the impact on patients and their relatives and carers and staff.

They demonstrated early recognition of decline (with more than a third all patients identified as being in the final year of life), offering advance care planning discussions to all and improved communication with GPs, with more patients discharged to live and die at home where appropriate.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals at the Care Quality Commission, has congratulated the two hospitals for leading the way in the care of patients approaching the end of life and has urged other hospitals to follow their example.

Sir Mike said: “End of life care is a central focus in our inspection process of all hospitals. We know that many hospitals struggle to identify patients in the last year of life and consequently find it difficult to coordinate their care adequately.

He added: “By delivering earlier recognition and more effective communication with the patients themselves and other professionals in the community, the Gold Standards Framework enables better care for people in the last months of their life. These hospitals should be congratulated for leading the way and being exemplars for others to follow.”

About the Gold Standards Framework

The Gold Standards Framework Centre started in 2000 in primary care, and now runs GSF programmes in end of life care in all settings.

More than 40 hospitals have completed the GSF Acute Hospitals Training, and more than 2,500 care homes across England and Wales have completed the GSF in Care Homes Training Programme, enabling significant change. 

Find out more on the GSF website.

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