Clifton Hospital launch new End of Life mouthcare packs


Donna Hargreaves and Harriet Matichecchia

Clifton Hospital’s End of Life training team have created a new mouth care pack for patients who are receiving end of life care. Such is the versatility of this handy pack, that it will now also be used for any patient requiring mouth care.

Practice Development Sister Donna Hargreaves and Trainee Advanced Clinical Practitioner (ACP) Harriet Matichecchia identified a gap and put together a 24-hour grab pack to keep patients’ mouths clean and hydrated.

“Comfort care is an essential part of medical care at the end of life, so coupling the pack with the patients’ favourite drink can help to ease the patient and provide personalised care at a very important time.”

The convenient packs have been are created to alleviate the need for nursing staff to gather separate items from store rooms. Everything they need, for a 24-hour period, is together in the grab and go pack.

Clifton’s End of Life training has taken place throughout the months of April and May and due to demands further training has been put on for June, July and August. In fact, the training has proved so popular, Clifton’s is introducing an annual End of Life Awareness Month every April.

Donna, who has previous experience in the Intensive Care Unit, said: “Before we put the packs together, the nursing staff were using mouth sponges but then these were withdrawn from use. We had little alternative other than toothbrushes which were not always the kindest or the most appropriate.

“The packs contain disposable soft tooth cleaners, enough to clean the mouth every 4 hours or more if needed, a gentle tongue scraper, mini toothpaste, moisturising lip balm and a basic dressing pack containing a bin bag and tray to enable ‘Taste for Pleasure’ by giving patients their favourite drink as mouth care.

“These can be used along-side the suction toothbrush grab packs for the patients in the last few days of life.”

These 24-hour grab bags for mouth care have proved so popular; they are now being rolled out across the Trust meaning more patients are benefiting from them.

Harriet, who has worked in specialist palliative/end of life care and frailty throughout her qualified nursing career, has worked on the mouth pack scheme alongside the end of life training for Clifton staff.

She said: “I have always been passionate about end of life care. When patients are dying it is so important that we ensure patient care is personalised and to the highest of standards.

“Giving patients good mouth care is a simple but essential aspect of the fundamentals of good nursing practice and contributes to end of life patients having ‘good’ deaths. This can be from giving patients mouthcare with a cup of tea and two sugars or even Baileys if it is their favourite drink. We only get one chance to get it right”.

End of Life training at Clifton Hospital supports the Trust’s goal to prevent or relieve suffering as much as possible and to improve quality of life while respecting the dying person’s wishes. Clifton also works alongside the Trust’s SWAN model bereavement care service.

Lead Nurse for End of Life and Bereavement Care, Jackie Brunton, said: “This excellent practice will be shared across the Trust. I will be meeting with Harriet to discuss how the care packs can be rolled out and supported by our Swan and End of Life teams.”

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