Building on the best: Compassionate care at the end of life

We have formed partnerships with the National Council for Palliative Care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care in Scotland. These partnerships, called 'Building on the best', will ensure that everyone in hospital approaching the end of life receives high-quality, compassionate care.

Almost half of people who die in the UK currently die in hospital. Every person who does die in hospital should be free from pain, and experience choice and compassion in the care they receive. It is also important for staff working in acute hospitals to be supported to deliver high quality end of life care in often very large, complex systems.

We are working with the health services in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to build on existing end of life care programmes in each nation. We will support the delivery of a consistent and enhanced quality of care that embeds compassion, choice and care for all at end of life.

'Building on the best' written next to three semi circles joining to make a circle shape.

Areas of focus

We will work with selected hospitals to develop new areas of focus for improving end of life care. These will include:

  • involving patients and their families in conversations about their care so they can be part of each decision  
  • taking the opportunities offered by outpatient appointments to discuss advance and anticipatory care planning 
  • improving the handover of information and records as people move between their GP and hospital
  • improving pain and symptom management.

Evaluation and measuring impact

We have commissioned an external organisation to develop a monitoring and evaluation framework. This will support the pilot sites taking part in the programme to complete a robust and independent evaluation.

Sites can use the framework to consider the effectiveness of their interventions and how to measure these through gathering relevant local data. Development of the framework and implementation plan is expected to be completed by the end of February 2017.

Impact of the programme

The benefits of the programme will be felt by patients and families who experience more personalised, dignified care at the end of life. They will have taken part in appropriate discussions at the right time, and could plan their wishes in advance. Their information will have been shared with the right people. Their pain and symptom management will have been appropriate.

There will also be a focus on sharing best practice between trusts, through communications and events facilitated by the partnership. Professionals will be equipped with the knowledge, support, and confidence to deliver an excellent quality of care for people that is safe, effective, and compassionate.

This programme could make such a difference to families going through a very difficult time.

Nikki, 57, carer

Further information

We have selected 10 acute hospital trusts in England to work with. Find out more.

If you would like to find out more about how the Building on the Best programme is progressing, please contact Josephine Fletcher, End of Life Care Project Manager.