Opinion

Proud to deliver a ‘good death’

Raina Summerson, CEO, Agin Care

My first job in health and social care led me to spend significant time supporting people who were going home to die.

The team, jointly funded by the council and the NHS, helped get people out of hospital beds and back into their homes with the right support. Whilst a death could be sad, emotional and untimely, this work, and my following social work experience, made me acutely aware of the difference between good end of life care and poor end of life care, the meaning of a ‘good death’, what the right support at this stage of life could mean to people and how difficult many people find dealing with the subject.

30 years on and death and dying remains an area people find challenging to deal openly deal with, including skilled health and social care professionals. In this environment there is the danger that we then don’t meet the needs of people using our services, or indeed those working in them.

At Agincare, we cover a range of care delivery, often for older people and under contracts with LAs and NHS. With a variety of home care, live-in care and care and nursing home provision, we support many people with end of life care. Our teams often pull resources together for someone to quickly get the care they need when they are dying; be that in their own home or needing it arranged in order to get out of hospital. We know from feedback that we receive from people and their families just how much this means to them at such a critical time.

So how can we deliver a ‘good death’?

  • Values-based recruitment
  • Training and development
  • Clear policies, procedures and good practice guidance
  • Death and Dying ‘champions’ who are more experienced in this work and can support others
  • Our services openly aim to be ‘for life’ where relevant and to work with others to provide social care through to death
  • Encourage open, though not forced, discussion about death and dying
  • Involvement and engagement with organisations who support good practice in this area
  • Support our teams; for example, ensuring carers having somewhere to go and talk through their experience via their immediate team/location, allowing time for team members to go to funerals.

We are increasingly seeing our work become more integrated with Local Authority and NHS services, which is welcomed. Recent projects delivered via our live-in care team have seen specific wrap-round social care provision as part of core NHS Continuing Health Care (CHC) services, using funding from the Better Care Fund. Feedback to date has been very positive, with the key factor being the fact that this social care means people can choose to die at home with responsive and flexible support given at the right time. We also have specific examples where traditional home care and live-in care models are used to support end of life care very successfully and to avoid hospital admission. Social care makes a difference to lives every day and is a fundamental part of delivering quality end of life care – and of that we are proud.

Case study

Our care home teams worked closely with an independent funeral director to deliver training to management and frontline teams to review policies and procedures and enhance our process from preparing for end of life care through to the management of a death, a person leaving the home and the funeral. This resulted in an improved understanding and confidence in our teams, which enabled them to better support individuals and family members as well as to challenge poor practice from other persons involved.

For more information and to read the full case studies visit https://www.agincare.com/care-types/end-of-life-care/

 

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