A national Palliative Care Team of the Year Award has been won by a team from Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Beating off tough competition from around the UK, the Trust’s End of Life and Palliative Care Team won the British Medical Journal (BMJ) award for the way in which it has transformed end of life care on the Fylde coast.
The award was presented to members of the team at a ceremony in Westminster on Thursday, May 5.
Dr Harriet Preston, Consultant in Palliative Medicine and Clinical Lead for End of Life Care for the Trust, said: “Winning this award is great news for patients, staff and the Trust as it shows we are leading the way in terms of end of life care.
“Everyone is delighted to have received the award. It doesn’t just reflect the hard work of the Palliative Care Team – it is a reflection of the work of staff across the Trust.
“We could not have done this without the staff nurses, doctors, healthcare assistants, ward clerks and other members of staff. It is testament to the care and compassion of everyone in the Trust.
“We try to make one of the most difficult situations in a person’s life more bearable.”
As part of a national plan to improve end of life care, the team first identified the wards where improvements would have the greatest impact.
More than 7,000 individual training sessions were delivered by the team to enhance end of life care and communication skills.
Ward-based training was provided, with one of the education team members covering for the nurse being trained to overcome the difficulty of releasing nurses from clinical duties.
During the 18-month project 1,779 people were identified as suitable for the Amber Care Bundle, a tool for promoting advance planning.
Re-admission rates for this group fell from a Trust average of 33% to 8.3%, and length of stay was also reduced.
Dr Preston said: “I think the project has benefited everyone.
“Patients and relatives feel more involved in their care. They have more opportunities to state their wishes and preferences if they have discussions early on.
“There is improved morale for staff as they are able to meet the wishes and preferences of patients. For the Trust, there is better use of resources.”
In the most recent audit, the Trust performed above the national average in many areas when it came to caring for patients at the end of their life. The audit, which took place between July and September last year, involved looking at 80 consecutive deaths within Blackpool Teaching Hospitals during the month of May 2015.
The results, which were published last month, compared the Trust’s performance with those of 136 other Trusts across the country.
All aspects of care were looked at, including five key areas known as ‘End of Life Care Quality Indicators.’ These areas included recognition that a person may be dying, communicating this with the dying person and those persons important to them, establishing any concerns and needs of the dying person and those important to them and developing an individualised plan of care for the dying person.
In particular, the Trust demonstrated evidence that the needs of those important to the dying person were asked about in 89% of cases compared with 56% nationally, and in 89% of cases there was documented evidence of a holistic assessment of the dying persons needs regarding an individual plan of care, compared with a national average of 66%.
Dr Preston added: “We won’t rest on our laurels – we will continue our work and training programmes.
“This award reflects how important education is in providing excellent end of life care.
“Everyone is different and needs a unique approach. We trained everyone, regardless of their grade. All our hard work has paid off.”
One of the judges added: “We were impressed by the team’s innovative and inclusive approach to training and education.
“They demonstrated not only a high level of Trust engagement with the project, but worked hard to raise awareness and change attitudes among the public using the local press.”