Thursday, 21 October 2021

Helping to reduce fear of patients in their final days

FOR patients of the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed, weekends can be a difficult and frightening time.

FOR patients of the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed, weekends can be a difficult and frightening time.

Many terminally ill people and their carers face having to wait until Monday morning to be able to contact a healthcare professional for help or advice.

Now this is changing thanks to funding secured through the charityâ??s partnership with supermarket chain Morrisons.

Sue Ryderâ??s clinicial nurse specialist service, which works with families in South Oxfordshire to ensure more people receive the care they want in their own homes, has expanded to cover weekends.

This means patients are able to receive specialist palliative care advice and support in their own homes seven days a week.

The service is carried out by a team of five staff, who are based at the hospice in Joyce Grove.

Nurses Liz Flannery, Sarah Barton, Jill Draycott, Louisa Nicoll and Selina Miles visit people in their homes where they provide face-to-face assessments, administer pain relief, give advice on symptom management and offer support to patients and their families.

Mrs Flannery, who leads the community nursing team, said: â??The expansion of our clinical nurse specialist team ensures that we can provide support for patients, families and carers seven days a week.

â??Our specialist nurses visit patients in their own homes to provide advice on managing difficult symptoms, such as pain, and to offer emotional and practical support.

â??They are also able to advise other healthcare professionals such as district nurses. Our experience of providing this service elsewhere has shown us that having a specialist  service at the weekend makes a huge difference to patients and their  families.â?�

The move has been funded by the Raise a Smile partnership with Morrisons, which has raised more than  £2 million in the last year.

A pilot service which has been running at the hospice since September has helped 112 people with everything from routine follow-ups and administering medication to confirming admission arrangements to the hospice and giving advice.

Mrs Flannery said that knowing they have someone to contact helps put the minds of patients and carers at rest.

â??It makes their situation much less scary and avoids people feeling as if they are being knocked from pillar to post or being given lots of numbers to call,â?� she said.

â??It means day therapy patients donâ??t have to worry about waiting until the next week.

â??Instead, they can contact us and ask us to get in touch with them over the weekend to see how things are going. Itâ??s the weekends where people arenâ??t quite sure what to do and might not have somebody who they can turn to.

â??We are now available on the two days that a patientâ??s GP or district nurse â?? the people who know them â?? arenâ??t around.

â??Patients and their families and carers feel very reassured â?? thatâ??s a word that we hear a lot â?? even if they donâ??t actually end up contacting us over the weekend.

â??I say to the patients, â??if something is on your mind, if itâ??s troubling you, just askâ?? because it might be something we can reassure them about.â?�

Mrs Flannery said one of the main benefits of the new arrangement was it helped to build relationships with patients.

â??Itâ??s still very early days but it is worthwhile already,â?� she said. â??You come to know what the symptoms look like for each patient and it helps us to manage them and identify what they need.â?�

The expansion of the service is linked to Sue Ryderâ??s â??Dying doesnâ??t work 9 to 5â?� campaign for the Government to prioritise access to 24/7 expert support for the terminally ill and those who care for them.

Mrs Nicoll, a community nurse specialist, said: â??We are very happy to expand because it is bringing community nurse specialists to the community.

â??This helps us to deliver the care patients need because we are not packing things up over the weekend.

â??It is about letting people know that we are available to give them reassurance that they can contact us. We are there when they need us.

â??The patient doesnâ??t have to wait for an out-of-hours doctor if, for example, they need their presciptions changing over the weekend.

â??Before now that patient might have had to wait until Monday or Tuesday or might not have been in their preferred place of care.

â??If the weekend is looming and somebody is not so well, to be able to give them my number I feel as though we have been able to support them. To be able to offer that 24/7 would be even better.â?�

Sue Ryder was founded in 1953 to provide hospice and neurological care across the UK at seven hospices, six neurological care centres and community-based services and in peopleâ??s own homes.

The charity offers a range of personalised care, advice, education and support services for people with conditions such as cancer, dementia, brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, Huntingtonâ??s disease, Parkinsonâ??s disease and motor neurone disease.

It relies mainly on income from its shops, including one in Duke Street, Henley, fund-raising activities and donations from the public.

For more information about the service, call 01491 641384 or visit

You can support the charity by texting SMILE to 70123 to donate £3.

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