The NHS end of Life Care Programme, working in partnership with the National Council for Palliative Care, has produced a guide that will help care homes to care for residents' physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs to achieve the best quality of life for patients and their families, even when this is likely to be short.
The Introductory guide to end of life care in care homes is aimed at care home managers and staff interested in improving care for residents in the final stages of life. It is the first of a number of planned publications aimed to support the improvement of end of life care.
It provides advice on the services available to help support the choice of residents as they approach the end of life. It also contains signposts and other useful resources such as case studies; information on best practice such as the Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient which was developed to take the best of hospice care to other settings, such as care homes; and the Gold Standards Framework in Care Homes programme.
Professor Ian Philp, National Director for Older People said:
"One in five of all deaths take place in a care home and from time to time staff in care homes will be involved in the care of the dying. We need to manage needs effectively at the end of life. This is important for the person themselves, the loved ones they leave behind and those who provide care at this important stage."
Eve Richardson, Chief Executive of the National Council for Palliative Care said:
"This user friendly manual was borne out of the National Council for Palliative Care's groundbreaking work in the field of care homes and palliative care. Our collective event with care home leaders and older people stakeholders identified the importance of developing practical guidance on palliative care received in care homes. As a result NCPC has worked closely with the NHS End of Life Care programme to produce this important new publication. NCPC hopes this guide will not only aid care home staff in delivering the best possible care for their residents but will also generate awareness of the important role of palliative care within care homes."
Martin Green, Chief Executive of the English Community Care Association said:
"We are pleased that end of life in care homes is receiving greater attention and there is finally recognition that many people end their lives in care homes. This introductory guide will be a useful resource. As a member of the care home sub-group on end of life care, ECCA takes this issue very seriously and has and will continue to inform members on the availability of the three good practice tools (PPP, GSF and LCP). ECCA will be circulating this guide to all members and will be encouraging dissemination more widely."
Andrew Makin, Director of Nursing, Registered Nursing Home Association said:
"In 1995 the Registered Nursing Home Association joined with MacMillan Cancer Relief in a project to introduce palliative care training to all nursing homes. From this grew our conviction that the palliative approach is the right one for care of all older people approaching the natural end of a long life, whatever their illness or its stage. Like all nurses I have managed some good deaths and mismanaged some bad ones. This guide is a major step towards ensuring consistent practice in improving end of life care in our nursing homes."
Des Kelly, Executive Director of the National Care Forum said:
"The National Care Forum welcomes the publication by the Department of Health and the National Council for Palliative Care of this guide. Good palliative and end of life care in care homes is an essential aspect of promoting good quality of life for people in care settings. The guide offers an excellent overview of the issues to be considered, the good practice tools and will be a valuable resource for additional information. The NCF looks forward to continuing to contribute to the end of life in care homes programme and will be actively promoting the guide amongst its membership."
The Introductory guide to end of life care in care homes is available to download from www.endoflifecare.nhs.uk
The guide has also been supported by Help the Aged, the Registered Nursing Home Association, the English Community Care Association, the Association of Directors of Social Services and The National Care Forum.