People who are dying can sometimes, having reached a crisis point, find themselves being transferred to an A&E department – particularly if they are not currently under the care of a hospice.
However, in many cases hospital is not the best place for them to be, and it would be more appropriate for them to receive specialist palliative care.
“Access to specialist palliative care support has been shown to be effective at reducing A&E attendance,” says Linda Coffey, head of adult community services at ellenor.
The primary responders to patients in such a crisis situation are the ambulance service – so ellenor has been working closely with teams from South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) to help them to identify when a patient is dying.
Linda Coffey and Dawn Dark, triage nurse at ellenor, have run a number of evening training sessions for SECAmb staff.
The sessions covered the services provided by ellenor, symptom control, palliative care emergencies and identification of dying. The ambulance crew were also encouraged to ‘pick up the phone’ for advice.
Staff who attended stated they now felt more confident in dealing with end of life care and would now call ellenor for advice and support.
Discussions around recognition of dying were felt to be very helpful, as was the knowledge that advice for patients not known to ellenor could still be sought.
“We’ve noticed that, since the training courses have taken place, there’s been an increase in calls and admission requests from crews, all of which have been appropriate and have supported patient choice at the end of life,” says Linda.