Since the pandemic, there has been an increase in the late diagnosis of life limiting conditions. This has provided added pressure to medical and hospital services already dealing with a backlog of cancelled operations and treatment.
Many of these terminally ill people and their friends and family have found it hard to navigate the myriad of healthcare agencies that they are put in touch with as part of their palliative care journey
And some of the most common issues that have caused them concern have been access to medical care in their own homes and expert advice out of hours and at weekends when their condition deteriorates, symptoms change or pain increases.
Now a new service has launched in Liverpool and South Sefton – following a two- year pilot – that is helping to support people and their families with these issues by offering an all- in- one palliative care service.
The Integrated Mersey Palliative Care Team (IMPaCT) service is one of the first of its kind in the UK and is made up of a group of healthcare professionals – including doctors, specialist nurses and specialist therapists – who work collaboratively in hospitals, hospices and in the community to deliver high quality, person-centred palliative care.
The new scheme is a partnership between Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Marie Curie Hospice Liverpool, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Woodlands Hospice. The organisations have also worked alongside other healthcare organisations, commissioners, and patient representatives to develop the new service.
As well as providing home visits from specially trained palliative care nurses and doctors the service also provides a 24-hour helpline, staffed by end-of-life care professionals, who can give advice and information to terminally ill people, their families, and carers to provide reassurance and guidance.
According to Marie Curie research there are over 750,000 hours of unplanned hospital admissions by people being treated at the end of their life.
It is distressing to think that people who are nearing the end of their life have to contend with overcrowded Emergency Departments, waiting for hours to try and find assistance for complaints that could potentially be treated locally in their home to prevent admission.
The new service – which can support up to 3,000 patients a year – has led to a 44% reduction in the average number of hospital admissions in the last 90 days for people nearing the end of their lives.
The IMPaCT model has improved the quality of care for people and increased interaction between agencies and instead of having to contact multiple services for their needs, access to all support and advice is now available via one phone number.
This means people can remain with their friends and families at home with a greater chance of dying in their preferred place of care.
It is hoped that the learning from the Impact service could influence other models of care nationwide.
Shockingly this level of palliative care coordination is not universal with end-of-life provision and services being patchy at best across the country.
Now Marie Curie is recommending that every area of the UK should have a designated 24/7 palliative and end of life care telephone line. This should be staffed by experienced palliative care professionals so that people at the end of life and their carers can get the advice, guidance, and support to access local services and medication that they need rather than having to call 999.
By Dr Laura Chapman, Palliative Medicine Consultant and Medical Director of Marie Curie Hospice in Liverpool and Trish Bennett, Executive Director of Nursing and Operations at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.
For further information go to: https://impactmersey.org.uk
Lead Photo: Dr Laura Chapman
About Marie Curie – mariecurie.org.uk
Marie Curie is the UK’s leading end of life charity. The charity provides essential nursing and hospice care for people with any terminal illness, a free support line and a wealth of information and support on all aspects of dying, death, and bereavement. It is the largest charity funder of palliative and end of life care research in the UK. Marie Curie is committed to sharing its expertise to improve quality of care and ensuring that everyone has a good end of life experience. Marie Curie is calling for recognition and sustainable funding of end-of-life care and bereavement support.
National Day of Reflection – mariecurie.org.uk/dayofreflection
For the third year running, Marie Curie, the UK’s leading end of life charity, is leading the National Day of Reflection on Thursday 23 March. A unique day to remember loved ones who’ve died, support people who are grieving and connect with each other. Marie Curie will be leading a minute’s silence at noon on 23 March, a nationwide network of Walls of Reflection and a series of grief-themed online events. Taking place on the third anniversary that the UK went into lockdown, the National Day of Reflection raises awareness of the impact of grief on our lives and of the need for better support.
The Great Daffodil Appeal
Now in its 37th year, The Great Daffodil Appeal is Marie Curie’s flagship fundraising appeal, taking place annually, every March. By donating and wearing a daffodil, you support Marie Curie’s Nurses, doctors and hospice staff as well as its Information and Support Line, which provides a listening ear or practical support with all aspects of death, dying and bereavement.
Last year, Marie Curie provided support to 66,000 people across the UK either at home or at one of the nine hospices, which meant people were able to spend their final days surrounded by their loved ones. It’s time to make a difference so Marie Curie can continue to help people get the vital care and support they urgently need.
For more information and to donate visit mariecurie.org.uk/daffodil