Wednesday 3rd April 2013
Sharing palliative care knowledge between teams has enhanced patient care and specialist knowledge.
Services for people with palliative care needs in Northern Ireland have developed considerably over the past decade, and a number of strategic developments are currently influencing the palliative care agenda.
Living Matters, Dying Matters [PDF, 1.92MB], the palliative and end of life care strategy for Northern Ireland, recognises that, with people living longer and chronic conditions more prevalent, further collaboration between the health and social care sector and its care partners is essential.
In 2011, Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Facilitator Aileen Mulligan set up a clinical buddying programme at Southern Health and Social Care Trust, in order to:
-build relationships between specialist teams within the trust
-develop a greater understanding of palliative care and specialist services available across the trust, including hospice services
-understand the constraints of different services
-develop an understanding of the palliative and end of life care needs of particular patient groups
-improve recognition of, and management at, end of life
-share knowledge around best practice for symptom control
-develop leadership and facilitation skills within specialist teams.
Development of the programme
An orientation session introduced the participating teams (palliative care, heart failure and COPD) to clinical buddying and included discussions about:
-support and respect for each other
-sharing knowledge/case studies/issues
-greater awareness of each other’s roles.
Shadowing days were arranged, with, for example, the specialist heart failure nurse, COPD nurse/physiotherapists pairing with a palliative care nurse for three days, and vice versa. This helped team members to make connections between areas of work, learn more about other diseases, and how to manage them and who to ask for advice.
Overall, participant feedback described a positive experience that improved patient-centred care. Other benefits included:
-It aided management of multiple conditions.
-Better relationships between teams and a shared understanding of other services
-Enhanced skills, knowledge and confidence around palliative and end-of-life care
-It promoted professional support.
Some noted that it was difficult to make time for buddying, expectations were sometimes unrealistic, and care sometimes overlapped between teams.
There are now plans to extend the programme to other specialist teams within the trust. The Memory Team, which cares for people with dementia, will facilitate sharing and learning from the programme between teams.
Sheila McConville, Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Facilitator, Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Nurses Home Daisy Hill Hospital.