Compassionate end of life care
Health and care staff across the Frimley Health and Care Integrated Care System know that showing respect and compassion to patients and service users is essential in getting their treatment right.
Staff across the system are committed to maintaining this high standard for all patients and service users, especially those entering the last weeks and months of their lives.
Caring for a loved one at the end of their life can be distressing and overwhelming for families and carers. As a health and care system we support the aim of helping people to talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of their life.
Jo Greengrass is Associate Director of Nursing (Quality & Safety) for the Frimley Collaborative - the group of NHS organisations which plans and funds the majority of health services for the area’s 800,000 people.
She said: “It is our priority to ensure patients across East Berkshire, North East Hampshire and Farnham and Surrey Heath are getting the best possible palliative care and support services.
“Our top priority is to continue to ensure patients get the care they need and treat our patients with dignity, respect and compassion as they reach the end of their lives. We continue to treat each person as an individual and listen to them so that we can understand their care needs and wishes.”
Across the ICS health and social care partners are working together in the community to support people, their carers and families to be able to talk about dying and make plans for their care. This includes teams of local GPs, district nursing teams, specialist palliative care teams, the local hospices, local authority Intermediate Care Teams, social care, ambulance services and community pharmacies.
Jo Greengrass added: “It isn’t easy to talk about death, but it’s important that we all do. I hope many people will take advantage of this chance to talk about a difficult topic in a friendly and supportive way.
“We are receiving amazing support from our voluntary and community sector partners, providing practical and emotional support to people in the local community.
“Our GPs, district nurses and other healthcare professionals are having honest conversations with people and their families about their future treatment. This is important as people are only able to make the right choices if they have the facts.”
People are encouraged to think about and record their wishes for the end of their life in an Advance Care Plan. In this plan a person can record preferences such as where they would like to be cared for, who they would like with them and, if need be, who they would like consulted on their behalf, as well as their religious or spiritual beliefs. The Advance Care Plan informs healthcare professionals involved in a person’s care of their wishes and they will make every effort to respect and provide care and treatment accordingly.
Advice and support for those caring for someone at the end of their life
As a system we have produced a booklet which provides information and advice to those caring for someone nearing the end of their life. It gives guidance on planning ahead, it provides relevant contact information, things to look out for in the cared-for person's behaviour and how to respond, as well as a range of other helpful tips on caring.
We have also produced a bereavement leaflet for East Berkshire, North East Hampshire and Farnham and Surrey Heath residents.
The leaflet provides contact details and links to organisations providing counselling support and information for people who have lost a loved one, as well as some brief information on what needs to happen when someone dies.