Delivering end-of-life care from a mental health unit

Being involved in end-of-life care is highly exceptional in a mental health secure service, but when one patient was in need of end-of-life care, the whole team worked together to provide the care he needed.

Often when a patient has a terminal illness and they need end-of-life care, they are transferred to a general hospital or hospice setting to receive their treatment. Ash ward, in collaboration with the patient’s family, made plans to provide the care needed, to avoid putting him through a move of locations. The team re-arranged plans on the ward to keep him comfortable in a place, and with people, he was familiar with.

Tracey Deacon, Ash ward manager, said: “We had already built up a strong relationship with the patient and his family, and we wanted to ensure they got the opportunity to spend as much time as they wanted with the patient in his final days.

“Some team members already had experience of delivering end-of-life care, so we worked closely with other colleagues in the trust to ensure the patient was receiving the care he needed. We moved him into his own private area, accessible via a side door so the family could come and go as they pleased, without needing to go via the ward. A member of the team was always with the patient, so the family were reassured that he was being cared for, even if they weren’t there.

“It was an incredibly different and challenging thing for the team to take on, delivering end-of-life care to this patient, while also ensuring our usual patients on the ward were receiving the care and support they needed. I am so proud of each and every one of my team – for putting this patient and his family at the heart of their decisions. It was an honour and privilege, giving him and his family time together during his final days.”

The team were awarded a Somerset Star for putting patient-centred care at the heart of their decisions. Service lead Jane Yeandle nominated the team, she said: “By working closely with our palliative care and district nursing colleagues, the team on Ash ward were able to provide the care needed for the patient to end his life surrounded by people he recognised and trusted.

“It would have been completely understandable for the team to request a transfer when the patient’s condition started to deteriorate, but they put him at the very heart of their decision, making him as comfortable as possible for his final days.”