Care overhaul for dying patients

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CARE for dying patients is to be radically overhauled across the Lothians, with more people to be given the chance to spend their final moments at home.

Marie Curie Cancer Care and NHS Lothian have joined forces to redesign palliative and end-of-life care. It is hoped that the new programme will mean the sickest patients will spend more time in the place of their choice before passing away.

It is also planned that the innovative new programme will lead to fewer hospital admissions for terminally ill patients, with research suggesting two-thirds would choose to die at home if they had an incurable illness.

Professor Alex McMahon, NHS Lothian’s director of strategic planning, said: “As part of our palliative care strategy, we made a commitment to redesign services to support an increased number of patients with end-of-life care in community settings rather than in hospital.

“Working with Marie Curie and other local partners we are aiming to develop services which maximise the time people spend in their preferred place of care, minimise the number of emergency hospital admissions, and support individuals and their families in making choices about their place of death.”

A high-level investigation and analysis of services is under way as part of the two-year Lothian palliative care redesign. An analysis of options and design of the programme will take place before it is implemented and then reviewed.

Services to be examined include hospice day services and care homes. New ways of discharging dying patients so that they can die at home if they choose could be introduced, while the use of volunteers to provide companionship and support to people with a terminal illness and their families could be extended.

Marie Curie services that are implemented as a result of the programme will be fully funded for two years.

Nichola Summers, the charity’s divisional general manager for Scotland, said: “The programme is taking a big picture view of the way that palliative and end-of-life care is delivered in the Lothians.

“By working in close partnership with NHS Lothian and other local care providers, we will be able to examine existing care services and needs before designing, piloting and evaluating new service improvements, which we believe will help to ensure that more people receive the care they want and need, in the place of their choice.”