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Hospice and ambulance service team up on Facebook to train paramedics in end of life care

Author: Leila Hawkins
27 April 2017

The Hospice of St Francis and The East of England Ambulance NHS Trust (EEAST) joined forces earlier this month with a live Facebook chat about paramedics called to emergencies of patients at the end of life. The event was part of the Ambulance service's End of Life Care Awareness month.

The Hospice of St Francis and The East of England Ambulance NHS Trust (EEAST) joined forces earlier this month with a live Facebook chat about paramedics called to emergencies of patients at the end of life.  The event was part of the Ambulance service's End of Life Care Awareness month. 

Ambulance clinicians are often called to an emergency in the last days of life and have to make difficult, time-critical, decisions about what is best for that person with limited information.

The aim of the Ambulance service's End of Life Care Awareness month is to increase the skills and knowledge of its paramedic team in relation to managing patients at the end of life. This has included collaborative working between the EEAST, The Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted and Peace Hospice Care in Watford, delivering bespoke education for ambulance clinicians, an area in which they receive limited formal training.

Working with Richard Smith, a local paramedic, over 70 ambulance clinicians have already been trained in three one-day workshops. Sessions covered communication skills, symptom control, recognising dying, promoting patient wishes and accessing local palliative care services.

There are plans to host palliative care placements  for all third year undergraduate paramedics from The University of Hertfordshire at the hospices.  Specialist palliative care teams throughout Hertfordshire  will start work shadowing programmes for ambulance and hospice clinicians.

Participants in the Facebook chat asked questions about how they could help patients at the end of life such as the increasing use of Anticipatory Care Drugs in the community, whether ‘Do Not Attempt CPR’ should be used, how to recognise the signs and symptoms of end of life and treat them appropriately, and how to have good conversations with patients and their loved ones about the right type of care for them. 

Fay Richardson, Community Nursing Lead at The Hospice of St Francis, commented:

"At the Hospice we are very keen to focus on widening awareness of the importance of good end of life care and our ongoing paramedic training follows on from our work in care homes as an example of this.”

“Ambulance staff are on the front line of healthcare and if they can feel confident dealing with a patient at end of life, it is better for all involved and also prevents unnecessary hospital admissions."

Sarah Stead, EEAST’s End of Life Care Lead, said:

“The live Facebook Q&A session was a really positive thing to do and was very well received by staff.”

“We were able to answer a number of questions about the difficult topic of end of life care and hopefully provide some support to staff. Being able to work collaboratively with The Hospice of St Francis was excellent and meant that the advice we gave was not just from an ambulance service perspective but had a view from the people who care for end of life patients every day.”

To find out more visit The Hospice of St Francis

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