A new service from Sutton Health and Care that helps to care and support patients (and their families) in the last 12 months of life, is reaching out to carers across the community to let them know that they are here to help.
The Sutton End of Life Care (EOLC) Hub, which launched in early April, facilitates improved end of life care for all residents in Sutton, provides support to patients, families and carers, to help patients to live well, or support loved ones to live well, during the last stages of life.
Lorraine Jeffreys, Head of EOLC Hub, said: “Caring for someone you love at the end of their life is a selfless thing to do, but it can be incredibly challenging and it can become overwhelming. Our team provides a central point to call for advice and support. We are here to offer support and guidance to patients, families and carers, and to work with other services to co-ordinate a patient’s care as required.
“This year, people across the country are continuing to face new challenges as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with many people taking on more caring responsibilities for their relatives and friends who require end of life care. We know it has been a particularly difficult few months, and we would like to remind families, unpaid carers and our patients that we are still here for you. ”
And the hub is already having a positive effect for local families facing very difficult times. Sutton resident, Johanna Gamrat, was caring for mother with advanced dementia at home and began to struggle with her mother’s deteriorating condition. Within a week of Johanna’s first phone call, the EOLC hub team had arranged a home visit to assess the situation. The team guided Johanna and the family through the support options available and, helped facilitate the quick placement of Johanna’s mother into a nursing home.
Johanna said: “When I got in touch with Sutton Health and Care Team, I was finally listened to. Meeting Lorraine and the Hub Social Worker Joanna face to face made a huge difference and I was very impressed, they worked very quickly to provide support. As a family we made the difficult decision to move my mum into a care home, and the team supported us through the process.”
The Hub is staffed by palliative care nurses who provide expert medical and clinical support to health care professionals, families and carers accessing the service Monday to Friday, 7am – 7pm. We also have a specialist Social Worker integrated into the team who can provide expert support and practical advice. Specially trained care coordinators take referrals and calls though the single point of referral seven days a week from 7am – 7pm.
The service plays a key role in supporting the delivery of advance care plans particularly where the patient has indicated that they would like to maximise other areas of their life before death, living their best life until the end.
Advance care planning is particularly important for people who are older and are frail, or people who have a chronic illness, multiple diseases, an early cognitive impairment, or are approaching their end of life. It helps to ensure that your loved ones and your doctors know what your health and personal preferences are and your preferred place of care. Planning ahead makes it easier and less stressful for patients and for family members.
The EOLC Hub will support patients to stay independent and avoid being admitted to an acute hospital – which many people want to avoid, particularly at this stage of their life.
The team works with voluntary sector partners such as Sutton’s Carers Centre, Age UK Sutton and Advice Link Partnership Sutton to help patients and carers receive social and voluntary services support if needed.