End-of-Life Care in Hospitals
The second NESC report examines end-of-life care standards. With almost 75 per cent of deaths taking place in hospitals and long-term care settings, the Irish Hospice Foundation set up the Hospice Friendly Hospitals programme to develop standards to improve end-of-life care in hospitals.
This programme provides extensive supports to management and frontline staff to help them to implement the standards. These supports include a co-ordinator who works with hospital staff, training courses on end-of-life care, resources such as the relatives’ handover bag (for taking home the deceased person’s belongings), and information leaflets for bereaved relatives.
‘Hospital staff told us how much they liked these supports’, explained Mary , a hospital manager interviewed for the report. ‘They said that it is great to have the little extras like the handover bags and other practical things, that show that there is true compassionate caring, and that there’s been a bit of thought put into it’.
Providing such supports for front-line staff is an innovative way to improve quality in services. However the end-of-life care standards are implemented on a voluntary basis, and funding to employ some of the co-ordinators who have assisted hospital staff to implement them is coming to an end. The report recommends a number of ways in which the HSE, HIQA and the Department of Health could support implementation of these standards into the future, so that the learning from this innovative Hospice Friendly Hospitals programme is not lost.
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