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How to be Outstanding…Marie Curie

Audrey Rowe, Associate Director of Practice and Workforce at Marie Curie

An outstanding person-centred approach

Each month we profile a care provider who has achieved an Outstanding rating with the Care Quality Commission and find out what they think it takes to be truly Outstanding. This month Audrey Rowe, Regional Manager at Marie Curie, tells us how the Marie Curie Nursing Service North East achieved its recent Outstanding award.

At Marie Curie, the UK’s leading terminal illness charity, we believe everyone deserves the best possible end of life experience. As we only have one opportunity to get this right with each person we care for, we have a responsibility and a duty to ensure our services deliver the best possible care. It is a real privilege to be involved at such a sensitive and personal time with people and their families.

Person-centred culture

Treating everyone we care for as an individual is essential and underpins our entire approach. We believe that each person’s specific care requirements, and their wishes, are unique.

Every patients’ experience is informed by a host of factors, including what family and loved ones are available to support, where they live and what cultural beliefs they have. Identifying each person’s wishes helps to empower them, offering a choice and a degree of control – which ultimately preserves their dignity and independence. The CQC’s report highlighted an example of this when one of our nurses honoured a patient’s religious beliefs by playing prayers through an internet-enabled speaker system. As a relative told the CQC inspector: “I can’t believe how much they did. It was truly amazing how they helped at the end. I can’t thank them enough.”

Influencing the wider care community

While our nursing service cares for a proportion of the people affected by a terminal illness, we know that there are more people across the North East who are dying without the care and support they deserve.

One organisation cannot meet this ever-growing demand on its own, so all stakeholders must work collaboratively to enhance and deliver excellent care. A good example of this is the Marie Curie @ Northumbria partnership service, where Marie Curie Nurses and Healthcare Assistants are integrated in hospital and community palliative care teams alongside NHS Northumbria staff. These combined areas of expertise complement each other to offer a truly person centred co-ordinated service which has proved hugely effective in the five years since its inception.

In addition to our regular services, we support staff in local care homes by sharing best practices. These include guidance in key areas such as verification of death, which helps reduce waiting times and anxieties for family members who need to begin the grieving process.

We’ve also established close links with nearby hospices, a training partnership arrangement with The Alzheimer’s Society, we regularly attend Gold Standard Framework (GSF) meetings and have developed connections with academics at local universities.

Well-led and responsive

Often, when people only have days left to live, it is essential that we are able to respond quickly.

Our 24-hour rapid response service is a lifeline to both community professionals and patients. According to one external professional, “It’s an invaluable service for us and for people who need it – there are people who would otherwise have come to the end of their lives in hospital when they wanted to be comfortable at home.”

We wouldn’t be able to provide the level of high-quality care we do without looking after each other too. Our person-centred approach and culture extends to all our staff and we are extremely proud of the team and the excellent care that they deliver.

The emotional toll of caring for people at the end of life can be hard. In recognition of this, we’ve championed the importance of staff wellbeing, while also encouraging colleagues to pursue new learning and career development opportunities.

This three-pronged approach has served us well, however, it’s by no means exhaustive. As there’s plenty more work to do in order to provide care for everyone who needs it, our Outstanding award is just one of many valuable steps in the right direction required.

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