Saint Francis Hospice launches 24/7 Community and Crisis Support Service

Categories: Care.

As well as around-the-clock access to clinical nurse specialists for patients and a rapid response hospice at home service, a helpline will be available 24/7 to provide advice and support to patients, their relatives/carers, and any health professionals involved in the care.

This year Saint Francis Hospice is celebrating its 30th anniversary and it is now one of the largest adult hospices in the UK. Over the last fifteen years patient numbers have nearly doubled and more and more of those patients have expressed wishes to be cared for in their own home (or care home) with the minimum of disruption to their normal daily life.

Developing services to reflect these views means providing immediate support at any time of day or night, particularly at times of crisis when a patient’s wishes can so easily be placed at risk with an unwelcome admission to hospital. This need was underscored by a report from Marie Curie Cancer Care published earlier this week, which called for around the clock care for the terminally ill.

Jane Sutherland, Director of Patient Services at Saint Francis, said: “Crises can be complex and can occur at any stage of illness but when they do occur it is vital that support is readily available – not only for patients and carers but also for the professionals responsible for the day-to-day care like GPs and district nurses.

“The new Community and Crisis Support Services that launch this week have been designed to ensure that all patients, relatives, carers, and any health professionals involved in that care have access to specialist support when they need it.”

There are four new services being rolled-out today:

  • Community and crisis support: immediate, around-the-clock access to clinical nurse specialists to ensure that patients referred to the hospice receive the help and advice they need quickly. Rapid support will prevent crisis admissions to hospital and enable more patients to stay at home in their place of choice.
  • A specialist contact centre and helpline: dedicated telephone advice and support day or night throughout the year for Saint Francis Hospice patients, their relatives/carers, and any health professionals involved in the care. This will ensure timely advice and the appropriate management of any crisis situation.
  • A rapid response hospice at home service: a highly skilled team providing an immediate (same day) crisis support and hands-on care at home with support available 24/7, 365 days a year for patients at the end of life. This service is key to the prevention of unwelcomed, unplanned admissions to hospital. It will also support emergency discharges from acute hospitals when the patient’s wish is to die at home. In this case the discharged patient will be welcomed by a hospice at home nurse on reaching home and cared for there. 
  • Enhanced day therapy services: supporting patients in their wish to remain at home for their specialist care rather than be admitted to an inpatient hospice bed. New day therapy services have been introduced in response to the views and changing needs of patients and their carers who have stressed the value of flexible services that enable them to access specialist support for short periods of time without disrupting their normal daily life. The new range of services include specialist consultation sessions, a range of specialist therapy groups and a variety of support initiatives and drop-in groups for patients alone, carers alone, or for patients and carers to attend together.

Pam Court, hospice Chief Executive Officer, said: “Over the last year Jane and her team have worked extremely hard to redesign our services to reflect the wishes and the changing needs of our community and have managed to do so with no additional funding. Early pilots carried out over the last few months have shown amazing results and so I’m happy to give the green light to the launch of these services on Friday.

“All crisis calls from patients or professionals will now be assessed immediately and the necessary support provided within two hours. During the pilot project period we found that our input prevented admissions to hospital accident and emergency departments in a significant number of crisis calls to our specialist helpline and contact centre. I am as thrilled for the teams that have worked so hard to introduce the changes and as I am for our patients, their families, our professional colleagues and our commissioners. Now we will have more patients being cared for in their place of choice, less unnecessary admissions to hospital, and at all at no extra cost to our funders and commissioners.” 

In other news … 

Last month, Saint Francis Hospice welcomed 26 domiciliary care agencies to its purpose-built education centre for specialised end of life care training. Saint Francis is one of only a handful of hospices designated an official Gold Standards Framework Regional Training Centre, and this course builds on its current work with GSF in Care Homes.

Lucy Giles, GSF Clinical Nurse Advisor, said: “It is well recognised that domiciliary carers are vital in ensuring that people can remain in their preferred place of care. This training programme has been running for three years and it is great that these agencies have the local support of Saint Francis Hospice to undertake this training.”

Last month ehospice also reported that Saint Francis had be adversely affected by high winds and heavy rain and had to close inpatient bed due to the damage to our buildings. Repair work has now stated, and the hospice hopes to reopen these beds within four weeks.

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