As we work together to support our patients, and each other, during the pandemic, providing excellent end-of-life care is more important than ever. Read this blog from palliative care consultant Andrew Gage (pictured), which reminds us of the most important things we can do for our patients at this time: listen, be with them, and give them the comfort and dignity they deserve.
“I see patients in most clinical areas of our hospitals – medical and surgical wards, our emergency departments, intensive care and high dependency units, Outpatients department, and very occasionally even on paediatric wards. During the Covid-19 pandemic I have seen so many changes in all these areas:
- A new illness, with new treatments and protocols.
- New anxieties and fears, for our patients and their families, and also for ourselves; for our own health, families, and colleagues.
- New barriers, PPE and fewer relatives visiting our patients meant our everyday work with them could feel more remote, less reassuring, and less personal.
- New roles, many of us went to work in different roles, and have since returned to our usual work, however, that strange, and at times overwhelming, experience remains with us.
Further changes are happening right now, with new ward environments, even new wards, and our intake of junior doctors.
Despite all these changes since the pandemic started, it is as important as ever that we give excellent personalised care. The most essential things we can do are the basics: listen to our patients, be with them, and give them the comfort and dignity they deserve.
In order to work together to give the best possible care, we need to keep talking, listening and supporting one another. Our frail, end-of-life care patients can be very complex medically, needing multiple teams to contribute their advice. The Palliative Care team often acts as a coordinator to help move things in the right direction.
We know that as well as being very complex medically to look after, these patients can also need more consideration socially and psychologically. As a specialist Palliative Care team, we are a very experienced team, dedicated to working with ward staff to organise and direct their end of life care.
To make things easier for our teams, while they’re providing the best care for our patients, we’ve introduced the following changes:
- Increased our specialist and medical presence across both hospitals seven days a week.
- Our out of hours advice, available 24/7, can now be reached via a single internal phone number.
- Use of donated iPads to give our patients more time to talk with their loved ones remotely.
- Helped staff to use the Coordinate my Care electronic records, improving communication with our colleagues in the community.
- Developed new electronic Medway versions of end of life medicines authorisation (MAAR) charts to go with the district nurse referral. These ensure our patients get the comfort medications they need when they get back home.
I also remind our ward staff to keep calling and involving us, any member of the team can reach us for support and advice 24/7.”