Praise for collaborative working between 999 and end of life care services

02 October 2020

Frontline staff at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) have been praised for the specialist training they have received to improve the care and experience of patients who are at the end of their life.

Over the last two years, a programme of work has been developed to provide staff with specialist skills to ensure that patients approaching their end of life get care that meets their needs, but also respects their wishes and avoids unnecessary trips to hospital.

Senior paramedics have undertaken Masters’ level education in end of life care to provide local support to ambulance clinicians.  An education programme was developed to include essions with consultants in palliative medicine from across the region and the delivery of Project ECHO, an online resource in collaboration with St. Luke’s Hospice in Sheffield.

YAS has recently received positive feedback from patients and staff at Kirkwood Hospice in Huddersfield, highlighting the importance of collaborative working to meet the needs of patients and provide alternative routes of care instead of a visit to an emergency department. Kirkwood Hospice has worked with the region’s ambulance service for some time and has previously undertaken educational packages for YAS staff.

On 9 July 2020, a YAS crew responded to a 999 call made by the family of a patient who was suffering seizures. They recognised that the patient would benefit from admission to a hospice rather than the emergency department. They made contact with Kirkwood Hospice, which already identified the patient as palliative, to discuss the best options and a direct admission was arranged immediately.

The patient’s daughter said the family were moved by the level of care provided by the crew. She added: “The ambulance crew certainly were there when you needed them. They provided compassionate care speaking to my mum the whole time throughout her seizure and made sure they did everything to accommodate us in that moment. They didn’t rush and looked after the whole family, even getting my dad a chair so he could sit down and hold her hand – those little things made such a difference.

“The crew liaised with Kirkwood Hospice for details on mum’s condition and explained why the hospice would be the next best place of care for mum. The hospice was so considerate and gave us the time we needed with mum from the moment we arrived.

“I’m so thankful to the whole NHS, the ambulance service and the hospice – you were there when we needed you.”

Honley-based Paramedic Victoria Gawne who attended the call with Huddersfield colleagues Emergency Medical Technician Samuel Batley and Student Paramedic Jenny Curley, said: “As a team responding to this lady and her family I believe we worked well, making sympathetic decisions and including the family in her decision-making and care as much as possible.

“In addition to the clinical care we provided, her husband explained that he carried his wife over the threshold when they bought the house so we offered to let him assist our crew in walking her out of her home and to the ambulance. I have definitely gained confidence after attending the end of life care (EoLC) course and the knowledge has proven to be extremely valuable to patient care.”

Andrew Hodge, Consultant Paramedic Urgent Care and End of Life Care Lead at YAS, said: “Over the past two years we’ve worked with specialist palliative care teams across the region to develop end of life care divisional leads. These are clinical supervisors with additional education to provide local support, deliver training and develop the pathway for local specialist palliative care support.

“Collaboration with our partners such as Kirkwood Hospice and St Luke’s Hospice is essential in developing our knowledge and skills in this often challenging clinical area.”

Dr Steve Oxberry, Consultant in Palliative Medicine at Kirkwood Hospice, said: “I want to thank the staff at YAS for the high standard of clinical assessment and compassionate care provided. It’s so important that we continue to recognise the value of collaborative working between YAS clinicians and palliative/end of life care services. By fostering a clinical and educational relationship we have collectively ensured that patients receive the right care at the right time and really benefit from admission to the hospice directly from home in a timely manner.”

Produced by: Corporate Communication Department