‘Together for health – delivering end of life care‘ sets out the Welsh Government’s expectations of NHS Wales, working with its partners, in particular the hospice and social care sector, to reduce inequalities in end of life care and make end of life care consistently good across the country.
As part of the plan, improved training will be provided to help healthcare professionals to talk to patients and their families about their end of life care wishes, and support people wherever they choose to die.
The views of individuals about their care will be sought and fed back to ensure continuous improvement in end of life care. To help measure success, an initial outcome framework will be developed during 2013. There is also now a requirement for each organisation to publish an annual report on end of life services for the public of Wales each year to demonstrate progress.
Hospices across Wales will be working with NHS Wales and other partners to deliver the plan and develop the initial outcome framework.
Emma Saysell, Chair of Hospices Cymru, said: “The plan marks a strong commitment by the Welsh Government to end of life care in Wales. We are confident that by working together to achieve its aims, NHS Wales and local hospices can make a lasting difference to patients and their families.
“The majority of end of life care in Wales is provided by hospices across a range of settings, including inpatient units and hospice at home services. Hospices are key to the delivery of the plan. It is vital that at a local level health boards make full use of hospices’ expertise to ensure they best meet the needs of their communities.
“There has been considerable progress in improving palliative care in Wales in recent years, which must be sustained. We are grateful for the hard work of Baroness Finlay and the Palliative Care Implementation Group and look forward to supporting the implementation of this plan.”
Baroness Ilora Finlay, professor of palliative medicine, said: “The way people are cared for at the end of life lives on in the memories of those bereaved. We set the tone for the next generation by the care we give today. Children who are losing a parent or grandparent will be deeply affected by all they see, experience and feel.
“Healthcare professionals need to listen to the patient and those who know the patient best, balancing at times different priorities. In this plan we aim to ensure that people’s wishes are known, that those delivering care know what to do and where to call for help and that attention to detail happens at every level.”
The plan builds on the achievements of the Palliative Care Implementation Board, which include ensuring every health board can access specialist palliative care 24 hours a day 7 days a week, delivering education programmes for GPs and nursing home staff and making sure care pathways put the views of the patient and their relative at the centre of care.
Baroness Finlay added: “Disease does not respect the clock or the calendar, which is why Welsh Government has already funded seven-day specialist palliative care nursing and has ensured that consultant advice is available across Wales for any professional providing care to seek advice at any time if things are difficult. Now the next stage is to ensure that we are all prepared for our own dying and that the profile of best care is dominant.”