Tuesday 29th September 2015
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Autumn 2015
The Macmillan allied health professionals team in Newcastle treats people with specialist palliative care needs
Our allied health professional (AHP) team was established three and a half years ago to meet the therapy needs of people receiving palliative care.
Led by a specialist palliative care team lead nurse, the team consists of two occupational therapists, two physiotherapists and a rehabilitation assistant. We cover two acute hospital sites and work alongside specialist palliative care teams, comprised of nurses and doctors, to assess and treat acute hospital inpatients who have specialist palliative care needs.
Our aim is to add to the services already provided in acute settings, where the focus is often on safe discharge planning. By working in partnership with ward-based teams, we can provide specialist palliative input and aid a smooth transition between hospital and community services.
The people we support often have variable or rapidly deteriorating conditions. We are in the unique position of delivering a hospice ethos of care in an acute setting. This includes providing symptom management and interventions to improve quality of life, including anxiety, fatigue and breathlessness management. We also use purposeful activity and goal setting in palliative rehabilitation.
A major achievement is our identification of the need for a palliative care-specific version of the Therapy Outcome Measures for Rehabilitation Professionals book (edited by Pamela Enderby and Alexandra John). With Pamela Enderby, we formulated and trialled these measures and are named as contributors in the new palliative care section of the latest edition.
Continued innovation has included adding new interventions such as hypnotherapy, acupuncture and cognitive behavioural therapy.
The magazine Occupational Therapy News featured our work in December 2013. As a result, we were asked to present at the National HIV/Aids, Oncology and Palliative Care Conference in November 2014. The interest generated has led to us providing advice and support nationally to other AHPs regarding service development.
Alongside educational input, we have also worked with senior rehabilitation physiotherapists to develop an education programme and protocol for patients with metastatic spinal cord compression that adheres to NICE guidelines.
The team has worked with numerous stakeholders including Northumbria University, engaging an MSc student who interviewed service users, who gave very positive feedback.
Working in collaboration
Additionally, we have worked closely in collaboration with some specialist services such as cystic fibrosis and transplantation services. We have also scoped the AHP service provision for palliative patients in Newcastle Community to improve continuity of care and service equity.
Finally, we have developed a unique rehabilitation assistant role, supporting rehab sessions and improving quality of life for patients and carers under supervision of the AHPs. The role has been so successful that it led to a trial of palliative assistants, to support the quality of life of dying patients and their families across the trust.
The team is hoping to secure substantive funding for the continuation of our posts.
Jill McCord and Sarah Rice, Macmillan advanced occupational therapists
Kirsti Loughran, Macmillan advanced physiotherapist
Anna Peace, rehabilitation assistant
Specialist Palliative Care Team
Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust
Email the Mac Voice team for more information.
Photo: Left to right: Anna, Kirsti, Jill and Sarah