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End of Life Care Strategy launched across the Pennine Lancashire district

A plan to ensure that patients, families and carers receive palliative and end of life care which is professional, compassionate and dignified, has been launched across the Pennine Lancashire health economy.

A local partnership comprising of NHS East Lancashire and NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire County Council, local hospices and third sector organisations, have been working together to ensure that patients who are approaching the end of their life are able to live as well as possible until they die.

In July 2008, the Department of Health published an End of Life strategy intended to change the experience of dying.  Following this, the Pennine Lancashire Integrated End of Life Care Strategy has been designed to deliver a vision of high quality services that will be individualised to the needs of patients who require End of Life care.  In addition, support will also be available for their families and carers, even after bereavement.

Dr Vanessa Warren, the clinical lead for end of life services at NHS East Lancashire CCG, said: “The end of a person’s life is just as important, if not more important, than the other stages. It is a time when personal preference is important and the ability for health professionals to support these preferences is essential. Our aim is to support the patient and their loved ones over this period to ensure their final wishes are respected”.

The strategy attempts to improve a number of areas so for instance, it will encourage advance care planning conversations with patients to be noted, giving them realistic choices and then sharing this information with other appropriate services. It also highlights a need for more joined up care, and better communications between teams caring for patients at End of Life.  Unfortunately, inequalities do exist across the area as quite often services can depend on where the patient lives. Issues associated with rurality and ethnicity are just two contributing factors.

Ser­vices will need to be com­mis­sioned across a num­ber of dif­fer­ent set­tings; patients own home, care homes, sheltered/extra care hous­ing, hos­pices or hos­pi­tals. On some occa­sions they will also be needed in other loca­tions such as hos­tels for the home­less and inde­pen­dent liv­ing homes for peo­ple with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties and men­tal health problems. The services will be delivered by a range of providers who will work collaboratively so that the needs and wishes of the patient are observed and that the patient is allowed to die in a place chosen by themselves.

Further information about the strategy can be found here