Earlier this month, it was announced that end-of-life care would become a legal right, after an amendment was made to the government’s Health and Care Bill requiring the NHS to provide services for palliative care in every part of England.
Care home charity, Greensleeves Care, welcomes this reform as the start of a much-needed societal shift towards embracing the topic of palliative care instead of shying away from what is an understandably difficult conversation.
Palliative care campaigners and charities promote the idea of ‘dying well,’ which in a care home involves not only clinical but social wellness at the end of a resident’s life, through involving their family and having open conversations about their end of life wishes.
Greensleeves Care homes have long since recognised the importance behind this new legislation and are hopeful that it will encourage a societal shift in attitudes towards death and dying. A lack of communication around the dying process can often result in people’s wishes not being carried out, whereas having a clear plan in place surrounding an individual’s end-of-life care can empower residents and their families.
The team at Greensleeves Care home, Mount Ephraim House, previously won a 3rd Sector Care Award for their approach to palliative care. The award referenced the team’s individualised end-of-life care plans, which are created both with the resident in question and their family and include information such as life histories, care-oriented requests, and funeral plans.
Home Manager, Karen Cooper, said at the time:
“We don’t shy away from death in the home – it’s part of life.”
There are many organisations which provide high-quality palliative care training to care settings. Broadlands, a Greensleeves Care home in Oulton Broad, is accredited by the Gold Standards Framework, which aims to enable a “gold standard of care for everyone, with any condition, in any setting, given by any care provider and at any time in a persons’ last year of life to ensure people live well before they die, and to die well in the place and the manner of their choosing.”
Other Greensleeves Care homes are part of what is known as the ‘Six Steps’ programme which enhances end-of-life care through facilitating organisational change.
The charity has also established a working group under the Centre for Quality on End of Life Care, whose work involved a visit to an Outstanding-rated London hospice of which Greensleeves Care’s Chair of the Board, Dallas Pounds, was the former CEO.
Greensleeves Care also has its own accredited end-of-life training which is delivered across all homes.
Greensleeves Care’s approach to death and dying is to honour and remember fellow residents after their passing which in turn promotes healthy grieving. Homes will install in-memoriam plaques, benches or murals, or hold events such as ‘remembrance teas’ whereby the departed resident’s life is celebrated.
Residents’ families are also invited to keep in contact with the home after their loved one has passed away, and many even come back to volunteer at the home.
Gareth Harding, Activities Co-ordinator at Harleston House, a Greensleeves Care home in Lowestoft, discusses his approach to talking about death at the home, saying:
“We have a memorial garden and have many rose bushes with plaques on that residents are supported to look after.
We will also hold a remembrance service within the home with flowers, candles, photos and the opportunity for residents and colleagues to pay their respects and share fond memories.”