People across the Fylde Coast are being cared for at home during their final days thanks to a service commissioned by NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group.

Hospice at Home, provided by Trinity Hospice, responds to night time calls for help when relatives desperate to keep their loved ones close by in their final days grow anxious about their condition and need support.

Hospice at Home not only brings a unique brand of comfort, it can also help ease the winter beds crisis at the hospital, and in just over a year has become a major success story.

The service works closely with Fylde Coast Medical Services, which co-ordinates referrals and acts as the central hub for out of hours care. It is funded in a three-way partnership between the hospice, Fylde and Wyre and Blackpool CCGs.

Fleetwood GP Dr Adam Janjua, Fylde and Wyre CCG’s clinical lead for end-of-life care, said:  “Nobody wants to spend their final days in a hospital bed so this service is one way we can really help these patients and their families to stay in a place where they feel most happy and comfortable.

“Patients and their families can take comfort in the fact they will be able to stay at home with their loved ones and also have some of the most compassionate and understanding nursing staff by their side when they need it.”

Nicola Parkes heads up the service as part of Trinity’s community nursing team. She says: “The Hospice at Home team is with people through the dark hours of the night, when it can feel very lonely indeed, looking after someone in the last days of life. For families in our care, we are just a phone call away.”

Working closely with the NHS district nursing team and with local GPs, Hospice at Home aims to give people more choice about where they die and also reduce strain on the hospital by reducing unplanned – and unwanted – emergency admissions.

Nicky said: “Many people don’t want to die in hospital and some don’t want to be at the Hospice – they simply want to stay at home. But it can be difficult for families to cope. In the past, when things take a turn for the worse the only alternative has been to dial 999 or wait for the doctor’s surgery to open in the morning, but Hospice at Home has changed all that.”

The figures speak for themselves. An incredible 98% of patients seen in its first year died in the place they wanted to be and the service has cost just £442 per patient based on 11 days contact – the cost per patient admitted to hospital would have been more than £2,000. Feedback from GPs, District Nurses, residential care homes and from local families has been outstanding too.

Nicky said: “It has been so satisfying to see what a difference Hospice at Home is making and it really underlines how end of life care reaches out into the community. By providing both day and night nursing cover in homes across the Fylde Coast the benefits to local families have been huge. We are all very proud of what has been achieved.”

Dr Amanda Doyle, Chief Clinical Officer at NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The service is a great example of organisations working together to improve patient care and experience. It is making a huge difference to patients and their families by helping avoid unnecessary and sometimes upsetting out-of-hours calls and hospital admissions.”

David Houston, Trinity Chief Executive, said: “The support of the CCGs is absolutely pivotal and Hospice at Home is a marvellous example of how care can be truly joined up – from GP, to hospital, to community nursing team, and to the Hospice.”

Hospice at Home sees on average over 50 patients a month – three quarters of them have a ‘high risk’ of hospital admission. Most people seen have cancer, but about a third were nearing the end of life with respiratory conditions, heart failure and dementia.

David Houston says: “Every Hospice at Home user who has fed back rates the service as good or excellent. Reading the notes of thanks from families is very humbling and it’s clear how much it has meant to them.

“It goes right back to the philosophy of end of life care: that how people die leaves the most lasting impression in the minds of those left behind. Saying goodbye is always painful, but there is comfort for families in knowing that everything was done to give their loved one the care they needed – in the place they wanted to be.”