Gateshead palliative care service launches

A new service providing vital support for people who choose to spend their last weeks of life at home has been launched in Gateshead.

The Gateshead Hospice at Home service works in the community to provide 24-hour care and support for patients at the end of life and their families within the borough of Gateshead, through a large team of healthcare assistants supported by a wider team of specialist practitioners. It is managed by two nurse coordinators who assess patient and family needs to ensure the best package of care is put in place, providing the right support, at the right time and in the right place.

Macmillan Cancer Support has invested over £1million in the service including funding two nurse coordinators, 15 healthcare assistants and two admin roles.  The palliative support service is delivered by Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust as part of the Gateshead Care Partnership in partnership with Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Gateshead Hospice at Home nurse coordinator Jo Lane, is district nurse qualified with 18 years’ experience with a focus on end of life care, said: “Whilst we know we cannot change the outcome of someone’s illness, we can provide support where needed, making a real difference.

“We are offering choice to terminally ill patients and their families at a time of great sensitivity. How and where people choose to spend their last remaining weeks is a crucial decision to both the person concerned and their close family and we do all we can to meet their wishes.

“It is vital we offer the most appropriate end of life care based on individual circumstance. We put in place an holistic assessment that considers all factors. It is this thoroughness which means we can accommodate the individual and their family, together with drawing on all available resources in Gateshead to provide the most appropriate physical and emotional support.”

The complex picture of supportive care in Gateshead includes district nurses, community nurse practitioners, Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care teams, children’s community nurses, North East Ambulance Service personnel, Continence service, and the Rapid Response service comprising of Urgent Care, Intermediate Care and Out of Hours Palliative Care teams. In addition, corporate teams including Adult Safeguarding and Looked After Children, Tissue Viability and Infection Control are key. Beyond this Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy start to complete a broader picture.  

Because of the specific demands and skill set needed successful Gateshead Hospice at Home healthcare assistants have undergone an exceptionally rigorous selection process followed by extensive training and education. 

The service is available to those who might need it as part of their care package, who are over 18 and registered with a Gateshead GP with only a short time to live, about 12 weeks.

Nicola Allen,  Clinical Lead for the Gateshead Care Partnership and Gateshead Hospice at Home said: “You only get one chance to get it right, and with the network of interdependent palliative support available, clear effective communication and an appropriately well informed, sensitive and personal approach between the patient, family and all the healthcare services involved is key to achieving the best possible outcome.”

Macmillan Cancer Support Partnership Manager Tina Thompson said: “Macmillan has always made end of life care a priority and this way of working will ensure that patients receive the best care and support.  We are delighted to be working in partnership with Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust and together we aim to provide a world class service to local people in their final weeks of life.”

For more information about Gateshead Hospice at Home please call 0191 445 5131.