An innovative, new approach to delivering community-based end-of-life care – developed and piloted by the South West Community Care Access Centre in London, Ontario and being evaluated by Western University researchers – is now being used by a palliative care centre in the United Kingdom.
St Luke’s Hospice in Sheffield, is the first British palliative care centre participating in this pioneering international project aimed at providing greater levels of end-of-life care for patients in their own homes.
EnComPaSS (Enhanced Community Palliative Support Services), which is led by Deborah Fitzsimmons from Western’s Faculty of Health Sciences, provides effective and cost efficient care for UK patients and their families in their own homes. It is anticipated that EnComPaSS will reduce the need for hospital admissions in England by between 40 and 52 per cent.
“The situation that we have in UK is very similar to the one in the Canada,” explains Dr. Fitzsimmons. “It is extremely fragmented and we don’t have a continuity of care even within palliative care. While we have fantastic specialists and palliative care experts working through the hospices and hospitals, we don’t have the number required to provide care for everyone that needs it in the U.K.”
By providing high quality palliative care in the community, EnComPaSS will help more people to die with dignity in a place of their choosing.
Harnessing the latest in information technology developments, EnComPaSS allows senior specialist palliative nurses and doctors to provide direction to St Luke’s community nurses providing high quality and timely care to multiple patients in their own homes from a remote setting.
Using secure tablet computers and software instead of paper-based systems, community nurses capture patient clinical data at the patient’s bedside and both specialist and community nurse can review the data via an online dashboard, thereby improving communication and the quality of shared information across the service.
“The majority of our care is delivered out in the community and at any given time our community nurses have a case load of about 300 patients across the whole of the city,” said Judith Park, St Luke’s Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Patient Care.
“This system allows our community team to work closely with day-care services and bring together medical, nursing, healthcare professionals and support teams all working towards one goal, enabling people to die with dignity in familiar surroundings.”
The development of EnComPaSS has been a partnership between Western University, St Luke’s Hospice, Sensory Technologies of Canada and the University of Sheffield, a partner in the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Yorkshire and Humber (www.clahrc-yh.nihr.ac.uk) where Deborah is seconded (part-time) to the Telehealth and Care Technolgies (TaCT) theme.
The partnership was awarded £250,000 (approx. $500,000 CDN) from the National Health Services (NHS) Nursing Technology Fund to develop the technology and training required to fully integrate EnComPaSS.