Care scheme helps more terminally ill people in Beds stay in their homes

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Specialist training in Bedfordshire for ambulance crews is allowing more people to remain at home for palliative care towards the end of their life, rather than face a trip to hospital.

Each month, around 80 -100 people in Bedfordshire who need palliative or end of life care now get support from a healthcare partnership between East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) and Bedfordshire Partnership for Excellence in Palliative Support (PEPS).

And since the start of 2015, additional training for ambulance crews and paramedics in Bedfordshire in End of Life (EOL) conditions has led to further improvements in the number of people benefitting from with new patients being referred to the PEPS service.

Clive Goodson, Senior Locality Manager for East of England Ambulance Service in North Bedfordshire, said: “We are delighted to be working with Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and PEPS on this scheme. It is encouraging that the figures already show that patients in Bedfordshire are benefiting and we will continue to train staff in the scheme and help more patients get the best level of end of life care and support.”

The co-ordinated palliative care scheme, backed by Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) started in January 2014 and co-ordinates patient care after a crisis. Patient care is co-ordinated by PEPS following a visit from the ambulance service and can often prevent an emergency admission to hospital. It also gives patients a choice in their care pathway wherever possible, dependant on patient need.

Angelina Florio, Head of System Redesign for Adults & Older People at BCCG, said: “Partnership working has made a real difference to patients’ lives by reducing unwanted and unnecessary trips to A&E and helping people whose wish is to be at home for their end of life, remain at home wherever possible. The specialist training for ambulance crews and paramedics enhances the quality of patient care and supports patient choice.”

Over the past year the scheme has grown: in the first two months of 2014 21 patients on the palliative care register were supported by PEPS to remain at home following a visit by paramedics. Now, 15 patients each month are able to avoid being admitted to hospital as an emergency.

Following bespoke end of life training in January 2015, ambulance crews made a record 21 new referrals to the PEPS service for non-registered patients in one month. This is in addition to the patients already registered with the service.

The advanced training includes: recognising dying; advanced care planning which includes the wishes of the patient; discussing death and dying; breaking bad news and palliative care emergencies as well as understanding safety, legal and ethical considerations.”

Tracy Haddock (PEPS Manager) said: “The positive outcomes of the training that EEAST have received in end of life care has had a direct impact on patient care. Working in partnership with the ambulance service, PEPS are receiving regular calls from EEAST. During the last 12 months, 738 patients (62%) of those registered with the PEPS Service have been able to achieve their end of life preference of remaining in their normal place of residence”.