According to the Global Atlas of Palliative Care at the End of Life, South Korea has isolated palliative care provision. This means that there are a small number of hospice or palliative care services, and that these are few in comparison to the size of the population.
Inspired by a recent study into hospice and palliative care in the UK, the documentary crew travelled to the UK to make a film about high quality palliative and end of life care.
According to the production company, end of life care is currently very topical in South Korea. There have been a number of campaigns and debates to discuss this, including how to develop better policies and care systems in the country.
With this in mind, KBS decided to make a special programme to discuss this important issue and see what they can learn from the UK.
One of the hospices the team has visited is ellenor in Gravesend, Kent.
Jacquie Hackett, director of patient care at ellenor, said: “As a charity, sharing our knowledge with others very much fits with our ethos and strategy – we have, for instance, a very strong programme of education, which we share with other organisations and colleges. We are all about sharing our expertise and educating others.
“One of our overarching strategic aims is to act as a palliative care lead – raising awareness of end of life issues, promoting good practice and developing our role in educating others to enable more people to get the best care at the end of life.
“Our strategy includes raising awareness of end of life care issues in the community and developing our role in education and training of other providers.”
Collaborating with the team from South Korea builds on the past work in terms of sharing expertise internationally. ellenor started the first hospice in Romania, while members of the team have travelled to France and South America to share knowledge and expertise. Care teams also visited from Nigeria in 2011.
The documentary team spoke to Jacquie Hackett about the hospice at Gravesend and home care and children’s services.
They spoke to the patients and team in day therapy, visited the inpatient ward and interviewed ward manager, Angela Cooke, as well as speaking to a patient currently on the ward.
Liz Green, mother of 17 month old Mia who is receiving care at home, spoke to the documentary team about how ellenor supports Mia and the family.
Following a traumatic birth, Mia’s parents we were told the devastating news that she had a bleed on the brain. They thought they would be taking her home to die. But Mia was a fighter and began breathing on her own.
Liz said: “We felt like we were on our own and were completely overwhelmed. We knew of a child who had recovered from cancer after being cared for by ellenor. Thankfully we were then put in touch with this fantastic charity.
“Now with the 24/7 help and support of ellenor we can care for her at home. When we went to visit my parents in Berkshire, our ellenor nurse briefed the local hospital about Mia and forwarded her notes in case she needed medical help.
“One weekend she vomited up her feeding tube and I had to call on ellenor several times to come out to the house and help put it back in. Nothing is ever too much trouble.
“My confidence has grown and I know I am giving Mia the best care and support she needs, supported by ellenor. We could be blessed with five to 15 years with our precious daughter and every year we reach will be a milestone. I feel safe knowing ellenor will be by our side throughout.”
The documentary team have also visited Royal Trinity Hospice in south London and the National Council for Palliative Care, an umbrella charity for palliative, end of life and hospice care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The finished documentary will air towards the end of April.