Sunderland medics back new end-of-life care scheme

Dr Ian Pattison

Dr Ian Pattison

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WEARSIDE medics are backing a pioneering new end-of-life care initiative.

Deciding Right is the UK’s first attempt to establish a new approach to ensure terminally-ill patients and their loved ones get the care they request.

It is hoped the move will help make their conditon as comfortable as possible and provide “dignity in death”.

As well as being rolled out across NHS hospitals, with paramedics and other care settings, it will also involve hundreds of nursing homes, care homes and hospices.

Dr Ian Pattison, chair of Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We welcome the Deciding Right initiative as a way to empower patients and ensure that their wishes for their future care, along with those of their families and carers, are kept at the centre of their care planning, no matter where they are being looked after, whether it be hospital, a care home, nursing home or hospice.”

Developed by doctors, nurses and social care professionals, as well as patients and carers through local NHS clinical networks, Deciding Right creates “one standard process” and provides common documentation, available to those with legal authority, to ensure patients’ wishes are followed.

Dr Claud Regnard, a consultant in palliative care who has helped develop the programme, said: “Deciding right is about putting patients, their families and carers at the very heart of shared decisions about their future care, making sure they understand the choices available and providing dignity in death by making sure their wishes are followed.

“Often people may have made decisions about their future care, but not written them down formally or told family members.

“They may have actually made an advance care plan, but not shared it with all the relevant agencies and people.

“Equally, because different organisations have their own policies and procedures in place, patients’ choices may not recognised from one care setting to another and can sometimes be disregarded by professionals in the heat of dealing with immediate life and death situations.”

Dr Elizabeth Kendrick, chair of the “end-of-life” clinical innovation team at NHS North East, said Deciding Right sets out clear principles for all healthcare organisations and professionals to follow.

The initiative focuses decisions on individual patient needs and wishes, she said, rather than organisational policies and procedures.

“Making sure that individuals’ wishes are followed right at the very end of life is central to dignified care and through Deciding Right we hope to make this a reality for North East people, whether they wish to die at home, in a hospice or indeed a hospital setting,” she said.

“The launch marks a very important step in improving end-of-life care across the North East and is the result of many years of collaborative work.

“We are proud to be launching Deciding Right at the Palliative Care Congress and in front of an international audience of professionals.”

Deciding Right follows the UK’s first charter to talk about death and dying, “A Good Death”, which was launched in 2009.

It put the region on the map nationally for its innovative work on end-of-life care.

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