Helping GPs provide quality end of life care

Categories: Care.

Amanda Taylor, Lead Facilitator in the End of Life Care Practice Development Team at Cynthia Spencer Hospice, writes about developing masterclasses to help doctors give patients quality end of life care.  

A GP will experience approximately 20 patient deaths each year. With this in mind, Cynthia Spencer Hospice Charity and Cransley Hospice Trust supported the Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s end of life care practice development team to develop and deliver a series of ‘End of Life Care Masterclasses.’ These equipped the 440 GPs in the county with the knowledge and skills required to support patients coming towards the end of life, along with their carers.

Cransley Hospice’s Head of Service Development Angela Howe, said:

“Education is hugely important in helping healthcare professionals to identify when patients are coming toward the end of life. Patients are then able to consider choices that they otherwise may not have been aware of or involved in.”

Recent evidence suggests that whilst GPs play a pivotal role in end of life care, many lack confidence in the area. Due to this finding, the ‘End of Life Care Masterclasses’ aimed to assist GPs with the timely identification of people coming towards the end of life, to encourage them to assist with advance care planning, to equip them with up-to-date knowledge in relation to symptom assessment and management and to inform them of the services available towards the end of life within the county.

The sessions were delivered during four Protected Learning Time events at various locations, from November 2017 to May 2018, and 63 per cent of GPs in the county managed to attend the masterclasses.

As well as the interactive workshops led by experts in the field, local providers of end of life care services brought exhibition displays and were on-hand to explain the services they provide.

Evaluations of the masterclass were excellent, with GPs expressing how this education would directly impact upon and improve the care they offer. One doctor said:

“Awareness of need to recognise patients in last 12 mths of life better so we can then have appropriate discussion with patients to allow plans to be made.”

Due to the success of the masterclasses, GPs throughout Northamptonshire are now better equipped to provide a quality service to patients coming towards the end of their lives in their practice, and can be confident of the resources available to them should they seek assistance.

For more information or for a full copy of the evaluation reports please contact eolceducation@nhft.nhs.uk