The Trust’s Palliative Care and End of Life service has been formally launched at Harrogate District Hospital with the official opening performed by the Mayor of Harrogate, Cllr. Anne Jones.
In March 2017 the provision of the hospital and community palliative care service for Harrogate and Rural District was transferred from Saint Michael’s Hospice to Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust. When a patient reaches end of life, they are supported by the team of nurses and doctors within the ward in which they receive care.
Harrogate Hospital & Community Charity and the Harrogate District Hospital-based Palliative Care team, have teamed up to add some additional strands which enhance both dignity and practical support throughout end of life. A perfect example is that of the Comfort Bag, funded through the Harrogate Hospital & Community Charity.
The Comfort Bags provide very practical items such as earplugs, tissues, notebook and pens, travel pillow, hand lotions and essential toiletries to help improve the comfort of relatives staying in for long periods or overnight. All those things they forget to bring with them when they’re in a hurry or didn’t expect to stay long. Boroughbridge and Rossett High Schools are keen to support this aspect through local fundraising for items which are included.
Angela Schofield, Chair of Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, said, “Our first principle for all those we serve, be that here in Harrogate, Ripon or the surrounding district is ‘You Matter Most’. This is being borne out by our staff at such a very difficult and sensitive time for our patients and their families and we see this particularly evident through the new Comfort Bags.”
Charlotte Rock, Palliative Care Team Lead, said: “We’re really excited to also announce that we will be training a small, dedicated team of ‘End of Life Support Volunteers’ who will be on hand to provide simple support to families who are visiting patients at the end of life. It’s so important that we reassure and discern a need during this stressful time. They may even at times be able to sit and support a patient at end of life, who may have no relatives.”
In supporting the initiative, Cllr. Jones said: “This is a humbling experience to meet such an extraordinary team whose role it is to support patients and their loved ones through such a difficult experience. At a time of year when we look towards Christmas with expectation and hope, for many this may in fact be a time when they experience the loss of a loved one.”
The team is also encouraging a discussion around dying which is so often lacking within society, Charlotte added: “We are delighted to see Rossett and Boroughbridge High School embracing the offer to become involved with this aspect of our care and potentially support through providing the essential items being included within the Comfort Bag. When we lose a loved one, we grieve as a family or community and encouraging this discussion within our local schools is welcome.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
Palliative Care and End of Life
End of Life may result from life-limiting illnesses such as cancer, heart failure and advanced lung disease. Others may have suffered a traumatic event or have complications with an existing condition. Palliative Care and end of life care involves the provision of a wide spectrum of support ranging from pain control and other symptoms associated with a patient’s condition, to helping their families to understand their illness and how it may affect them. In addition, the team meet with other professionals to discuss patients’ and families’ wishes and needs whilst offering access to hospice day therapy or the hospice in-patient unit.
The need to relaunch
In March 2017 the provision of the hospital and community palliative care service for Harrogate and Rural District was transferred from Saint Michael’s Hospice to Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust. The Palliative Care Team provides specialist support and advice to patients and those important to them in the hospital, at home or in a care home.
We aim to introduce two new initiatives to enhance the quality of care for both the patients and their families; those being ‘Comfort Bags’ and support through specifically trained ‘end of life’ volunteers. The project will also allow for local schools and companies to become involved
Who we are
We are a team of nurses and doctors employed by Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust with specialist knowledge in palliative care and look after patients with life-limiting illnesses such as cancer, heart failure and advanced lung disease.
We visit patients in wards and outpatient departments at Harrogate District Hospital and Ripon Community Hospital, in nursing/residential homes and in patients’ homes in the surrounding district.
We work closely in conjunction with GPs, consultants and multi-professional teams who have overall responsibility for patient care.
What we do
- Helping to control pain and other symptoms as soon as possible after they arise
- Helping patients and their families to understand their illness and how it may affect them
- Discussing worries and concerns
- Helping patients, their families and their professional teams plan for the future
- Meeting with other professionals to discuss patients’ and families’ wishes and needs, to ensure they are considered and met wherever possible
- Offering access to hospice day therapy or the hospice in-patient unit, where appropriate, and to other support services
Head of Community Fundraising