Thanks to the generosity of a small group of individuals and organisations, we were able to expand our specialist Hospiscare@Home service into the areas surrounding Crediton, Okehampton and North Dartmoor in April 2022.
The service aims to support a patient’s choice to remain at home for the last few weeks or days of their life. In 2015, the Office for National Statistics found that about 81% of patients wished to die at home. In 2018, Public Health England reported that only 23.5% of patients died at home in the year 2016.
We have been working closely with our NHS community colleagues to provide expertise and support for those patients with complex, specialist palliative care needs. These relationships have strengthened during this period and with collaborative working, we are successfully supporting patients and those important to them at the end of their life.
From April to December 2022, the new Hospiscare@Home service received 76 referrals. Our nurses carried out over 600 visits to patients’ homes and of the 63 patients who died in our care, 62 died in their preferred place. One of these patients was Chris*, a 58 year-old gentleman with end-stage liver failure. Our Hospiscare@Home nurse, Hannah, explains “Chris lived alone with his dog, Millie. His only other relative was his step-mum who lived locally and popped in once a day, but wasn’t able to provide personal care. After receiving his diagnosis, Chris wanted to die at home with Millie by his side.
“Chris really struggled with day-to-day tasks in the months leading up to his death. We provided care for Chris and encouraged him to shower and supported him with day-today tasks like laundry. We also applied for funding from a local trust to purchase basic items like towels and bedding.
“When Chris’s condition deteriorated further and he became bed-bound, we provided care twice a day which included a bed-bath wash and replenishing his medications, which were delivered via a syringe pump.
“Chris died peacefully during the night with Millie by his side, which was his wish. Following his death, we were able to take care of the practical arrangements, from contacting the appropriate healthcare professionals to collecting equipment. We also provided emotional support to Chris’s step-mother.
“We were all concerned about what would happen to Millie the dog, but Chris’s step-mum agreed to take her!”
In less than a year, our new Hospiscare@Home service has proved to be invaluable to patients like Chris. With your support, we will be able to sustain this specialist provision and support patients in the areas surrounding Crediton, Okehampton and North Dartmoor to die at home.
*The patient’s name has been changed to protect their confidentiality.