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ExtraCare continue to be a frontrunner in end of life care after being the first to achieve bespoke national award

The ExtraCare Charitable Trust became the first set of retirement villages back in 2019 to gain a national award in end of life care, after helping create a bespoke package especially for the industry.

17 locations have already achieved the Gold Standards Framework (GSF) Quality Hallmark Award, which sees staff members trained as ‘champions’ so they can better support colleagues when helping residents put an end of life plan in place.

The ExtraCare team worked with the national GSF team to create a bespoke package especially for end of life care in retirement villages, with the hope that it will be rolled out into similar organisations.

Registered nurse, Wioletta Chyla, who is a Wellbeing Advisor and GSF Champion at Shenley Wood Village, in Milton Keynes, has said that she now has the confidence to speak to residents about death, dying and bereavement following the training.

“Having the training has been very beneficial. I now know how to have conversations with residents about end of life planning, which can sometimes be difficult,” said Wioletta.

“Speaking about end of life plans are now becoming a part of natural conversation, rather than a topic we avoid.

As registered nurses, we have a lot of knowledge and expertise when it comes to providing healthcare advice for residents but now, we also know who they can go to or where to go, when people are needing end of life support.”

Wioletta and the team at Shenley Wood Village helped move a terminally ill resident from hospital back to her home, so she could fulfil her wish of dying there.

Being able to die at home meant that the resident was able to spend precious time with her family and husband, while given dignity and respect at the end of her life.

The Pandemic unfortunately shifted things back to residents having to spend their last days in hospital, which is not what many actually want. So, we are now working to support residents to write their own Advance Care Plan where possible, so that their wishes are well known before they get to that stage in their life. This helps us advocate with other health care services on behalf of our residents.

Shirley Hall, Head of Wellbeing, Research and Innovation at ExtraCare, said: “The programme means that the champions are proactive in identifying residents who need that help early on.

Our residents are at the centre of everything we do at ExtraCare and being able to help give them the best death possible by planning end of life care, will make such a positive difference, not only to them but to their families too.

Having the GSF has created a more open culture in locations, so both staff and residents can talk about end of life and dying well.”

The award is co-badged with the main body representing the sector, Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO).

Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO, said: “Retirement Communities keep older people healthier and more active for longer and are a fantastic integrated housing, services, support and optional care offering. Residents live in a Retirement Community for an average of eight years, and although most are fit and healthy it makes sense to plan ahead for the end of their lives, to make sure that they receive the right care and support.

GSF have understood how Retirement Communities are a different offering to anything else out there and have rightly produced a framework which works for residents living there. This approach will benefit thousands of people over time and is a very welcome development for our sector.”

Professor Keri Thomas, GSF Clinical Director, said: “With 78,000 people now living in Retirement Communities and that figure expected to rise significantly in the coming years, we’re delighted to be able to support the workforce in this growing sector to deliver proactive, person-centred and systematic, better coordinated care including all allied health and social care professionals.

We congratulate ExtraCare on being frontrunners in the sector, setting an example to other Retirement Community operators in providing every resident in their golden years with gold standard care right up until the end of life.”

For more information, please contact: Shirley Hall at