EXPERTS in palliative care have been speaking to health officials to help raise awareness of dignity in dying and death.
Chief executive of Hospice UK Tracey Bleakley was the key note speaker at a conference hosted by St Teresa’s Hospice, Darlington.
Speaking to over 145 GPs, nurses, administration and clinical staff from the 11 GP practises across the town, Ms Bleakley outlined the trends and pressures in palliative care and end of life.
“Over 208,000 people across the country have been helped by hospices this year alone,” she said.
“Five percent of people who die each year die in a hospice and 84 percent of hospice care is carried out in people’s homes.
“But death and dying is changing, hospices aren’t just there for the last few days of a person’s life, we want to be able to help people from the earliest opportunity to help improve the quality of life for all patients.
“Hospices are about life not death we want to get to more people earlier and this has to change.”
The protected learning time event, held at Hallgarth Hall, Coatham Mundeville, was organised by Primary Health Care Darlington who work in partnership with local GPs, communities and service providers, to deliver sustainable healthcare.
“We don’t really talk about death and dying anymore, family set ups are changing, working people may have children and elderly relatives who may be ill to look after, and we need this discussion to happen more and more,” said Ms Bleakley.
“Hospices are now working in partnership with hospitals, sharing volunteers, working with care homes to support, educate and mentor staff, working with GPs to understand referrals, with community pharmacies and bereavement support groups and it is so important to work together to support the families who need our help.
“We need to bring death back into society, for it to be owned by people and communities, to teach people the skills they need and support them through pre-bereavement and bereavement and look after our carers.
“The future of hospice care is going to be different, the world is changing and we need to do things differently and help even more people benefit from our services.”
The conference was hosted by chief executive of St Teresa’s Hospice, Darlington, which provides free in-patient and community care services and support for residents of Darlington, South West Durham and North-Yorkshire and leads the country in the care of patients who are affected by life-limiting illness.
Presentations were also given by members of the St Teresa’s palliative care team outlining the Darlington picture in terms of end of life care and the variety of services offered by the hospice.
These included palliative care lead Dr Helen McLeish, of Whinfield Medical Practice, Hospice head of care Alison Marshall, palliative care sister Lin Vaughan, community hospice team lead Helen Wrigley, family support and bereavement team manager Deborah Robinson, nurse consultant Sheila Dawson, family support and bereavement worker Ben Bourne.
Chief executive of St Teresa’s Hospice Jane Bradshaw said: “We were pleased to be asked to provide the programme and content for this important meeting and thrilled that Tracey from Hospice UK agreed to be the keynote speaker.
“It’s also so important to keep healthcare professionals up-to-date with all of St Teresa’s Hospice services and the breadth of expertise we have to offer, in our day hospice, inpatient, community and family support services.”