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Innovative palliative care findings discussed at European conference

ExtraCare's Head of Research, Innovation and Customer Insight, Shirley Hall, joined an online European conference on palliative care, submitting ExtraCare’s findings to attendees.

The 17th World Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care took place online in early October. As attendees faced growing demand, changing practice, and increasing challenges to the delivery of palliative care, the 17th World Congress “Exploring New Dimensions” offered guests the chance to hear about exciting innovations and progress from within the palliative care community, as well as valuable contributions from the wider services and communities with whom they work.  

Shirley put forward the ExtraCare Charitable Trust’s results through a presentation on findings from the first Gold Standards Framework (GSF) accredited retirement villages and reflections in the COVID crisis.

ExtraCare is a frontrunner in end of life care as the charity was the first in the UK to implement a tailored training programme to support this. The conference discovered ExtraCare’s aim to create a shift in staff mindset, guiding them to encourage active living and at the same time promote discussions around end of life planning with residents. One of the project’s aims was to realistically offer residents the option of dying at home with the right care, support and services in place.  

Discussing the methodology behind how this was actioned, Shirley presented how ExtraCare put together three cohorts of key staff including Care Managers, Dementia and Mental Wellbeing Enablers, and Wellbeing Advisors and trained them in GSF methodology which was then cascaded to location colleagues. All residents were encouraged to write an Advance Care Plan (ACP), discuss with their family and/or friends to make their wishes known and consider plans for later life. The GSF Needs Support Matrix was adapted to Retirement Villages and ExtraCare teams set up regular coding meetings to help support residents in the later stages of their life. Guidance was also discussed and written for locations to help reduce unnecessary hospital admissions.

As a result of the work 18 locations are now GSF trained and accredited with the GSF Quality Hallmark Award following submission of evaluations, a portfolio and a visit. GSF is now a part of normal working practice at ExtraCare. Stoke Gifford Village near Bristol is the latest to achieve their accreditation and will be presented with their award in November at the GSF annual conference. Key results of ExtraCare’s findings included; more advance care plans completed; an increase in the number of Resident appointed Power of Attorney’s and choosing to die at home; reduced unplanned hospitalisation; greater staff confidence and ability to talk about death and dying; better collaboration with GPs and Primary Care Teams, and the creation of ExtraCare End of Life Care packages.  

Shirley comments: “I am delighted nearly all of our locations are now accredited to the GSF National Programme – the first retirement locations in the UK to do so. The programme has trained ‘champions’ in all locations to support all staff, so they are proactive in identifying residents who need that help early on.

“We can then signpost them to the right services, work with primary care who also adopted the GSF some years ago, and ensure their wishes are met at the end of life. It has created a more open culture in locations, so both staff and residents can talk about end of life and dying well.”

Find out more about ExtraCare's End of Life support.

Pictured: (L-R) Shirley Hall and others at the GSF awards.