Hospice charity ellenor has been asked to lead on an innovative pilot which aims to address the need for increased support for palliative patients in the community. It is a move which has seen ellenor’s expertise in providing the best care and support for people at the end-of-life once again being recognised by local NHS commissioner, Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group (DGS CCG).

The pilot will see ellenor expanding its pioneering work with local care homes and in addition, work with South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) to establish a direct link into ellenor’s inpatient ward, as an alternative to Accident & Emergency (A&E) for all suitable palliative patients.

“Being chosen to lead on this project is hugely exciting and very positive for us, as it places ellenor firmly at the forefront of palliative and end-of-life care locally,” says Jacquie Hackett, Director of Care at ellenor. “It is a significant achievement to be recognised in this way by NHS commissioners.”

ellenor has already developed an excellent reputation for working with care homes in the local area. For the past five years, the organisation has had several nurses working alongside nursing and residential care home staff to offer support, guidance and training in order to promote the best possible palliative care for their residents at the end-of-life.

The CCG recognised the good work the team had been doing and wanted to enhance this for local nursing homes, so the pilot was agreed. Last year, 96% of care home patients known to ellenor were able to die peacefully in their care home because of ellenor’s training and support and the CCG is keen for ellenor to continue this work and reach out to even more homes.

Under the new pilot, the dedicated care homes team will be expanded to provide direct support in all nursing homes in the area. The team will help to manage the palliative care needs of all residents; including producing detailed care plans to ensure their last wishes are met. Nursing homes will be supported 24/7 via the ellenor on-call service and the ongoing support to residential homes in the area will continue.

People who are dying can sometimes, having reached a crisis point, find themselves being transferred to an A&E department, particularly if they are not currently under the care of a hospice team. So that people are able to have more control of where they die, the CCG pilot will also involve ellenor working closely with SECAmb to establish a direct link into ellenor’s inpatient ward at ellenor Gravesend, as an alternative to A&E for all suitable palliative patients.

The hospice charity has already developed links with SECAmb and has been running training sessions for ambulance crews to help them identify when a patient is dying.

“The training given to our crew members by ellenor has been extremely beneficial,” says Shirmilla Austin, SECAmb End of Life Care Lead. “Our staff who attended the training now feel so much more confident in dealing with end-of-life care and have gained an increased awareness in recognising and identifying people who are dying.  Knowing that they can pick up the phone for advice is also really reassuring.  We appreciate the ellenor team sharing its expertise and skills with us and really feel that the wider community is benefitting from this partnership.”

The pilot project will also involve developing closer links with all 34 GP practices in the area, to make sure that palliative patients not already supported by ellenor are able to access the organisation’s support and services. In addition, a specialist nurse from ellenor will also be working with the out-of-hours service, IC24, to identify the issues palliative patients and providers face overnight and at weekends when GP surgeries are closed.

“Leading on this project recognises the key role we play in meeting the needs of patients and families to achieve their preferred place of care,” says Jacquie Hackett. “Our vision, mission and strategy are aimed at enabling patients to remain in their own homes where possible or be cared for in our own inpatient ward where required.”

The pilot is set to run until 31 March 2018, with the CCG working closely with ellenor to support its delivery and measure outcomes, which will then feed into a full service review.

ellenor is now actively recruiting additional nursing staff to help support delivery of this pilot. It is particularly looking for nurses to work as part of its Care Home Support team, to support all residents in care homes; enabling them to remain in their preferred place of care. In addition, the charity is currently seeking to recruit the following roles: Clinical Nurse Specialists, Senior Staff Nurses, Staff Nurses – with both part-time and full-time roles being available.

“Our strategic aims recognise our role in leading the development of services to the wider community at the end-of-life and we see an increasing role in education and training and as a coordinator for providing the best possible palliative care to more people and families,” adds Jacquie Hackett.

Anyone interested in applying can contact ellenor’s HR team on tel: 01474 320007.