The proposals focus on reshaping how services are structured and delivered to make the best use of resources and ensure that they can cope with changes in demand.
Health minister Edwin Poots said: “We have a growing and ageing population. The treatment and care of citizens is also changing. We have increasingly specialised services with technology driving many improvements in the design and delivery of care. Changing how our services are provided is inevitable. I want to ensure that change is planned and managed.”
The consultation documents outline proposed changes to the delivery of health and social care, as suggested by the review of health and social care published in December 2011 ‘Transforming your care’.
The consultation documents include draft local populations plans, reflecting local needs, as well as a draft strategic implementation plan for Northern Ireland as a whole. Patients, clients, service users and service providers are encouraged to respond to the consultation, which runs to 15 January 2013.
Key proposals for palliative and end of life care
- To greatly increase the number of people who are supported to die in their preferred location, where they have expressed a preference
- More 24-hour community support for people in the last year of life, in accordance with their assessed needs.
- Implementation of the End of Life Care Operational System (EOLCOS). This is a system to identify people who may be in the last year of life. It allows for the beginning of a discussion which will support people to express their needs and preferences of how and where they would wish to die.
- Increased access to specialist palliative support out of hours, including specialist ‘in-reach’ into nursing homes and people’s homes when they need it.
- Working more closely with the voluntary and community sector in the provision of palliative care.
- Better links and integrated working between specialist and generalist services, especially through the Integrated Care Partnerships.
- Increase the education and training (and therefore the number) of staff confident and competent in the core principles of palliative and end of life care in all sectors.