Health chiefs aiming for high standards in end-of-life care after closure of St Clare's Hospice
NHS leaders have praised new end-of-life care services in South Tyneside aiming to “create something fit for the future and avoiding the mistakes in the past.”
The Governing Body of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) got an update on ‘improving palliative and end-of-life care.’
The report outlined the work carried out since CCG bosses approved a £1.5million annual investment into palliative care in September 2020.
At the time, a model was agreed with a greater emphasis on enhanced home and community care and a hospice-style facility at Haven Court, based at the South Tyneside District Hospital site.
The service changes aimed to fill the gap in provision left by the loss of St Clare’s Hospice in Jarrow, which shut down in January 2019 after the independent charity that ran it collapsed into insolvency.
While improvements have already been made to community services, the new suite of ‘home from home’ bedrooms at Haven Court are not due to open fully until December 2021 at the latest.
Following feedback since September 2020, several changes will be made to the facility – such as moving the specialist bedrooms to a quieter part of the building on the ground floor and increasing room numbers from four to six.
The facility will offer a family and carer suite with catering facilities, so that people can be close to their loved ones, and works will be carried out to create patio doors for each individual room opening out into a garden area.
The service will also include physio and occupational therapies, and the CCG is currently working to provide an enhanced level of complementary therapies, counselling and chaplaincy services.
Executive Director of Operations at South Tyneside CCG, Matt Brown, gave an update on Haven Court and the wider end-of-life care model to the CCG’s Governing Body.
“We’re asking you to note the progress and I think a really exciting model that we have managed to develop,” he said.
“[There have been] a number of complexities over the years about what’s practical and what’s feasible and how we get something that’s really fit for the future and avoids the mistakes in the past."
He added: “So I would ask the Governing Body to acknowledge the great progress that has been made and the mobilisation timeline.
“All of that will be, all the community services we’re covering now and the palliative care home from home bedrooms [which] will be up and running by December 2021.
“Clearly if the estates and recruitment time-scales happen quicker, then we will be able to start more quickly which we would all like, but I think realistically December is when we’re probably looking.”
A final opening date for the new bedrooms at Haven Court is subject to a 12-week programme of estates work to the building and a recruitment exercise.
Several Governing Body members praised the plans at the meeting, including Jeanette Scott, the CCG’s Executive Director of Nursing, Quality and Safety.
“This is an excellent piece of work, it has taken a while to get to the position we’re at now that you have been able to report but it has been worth the effort,” she said.
“All of the people that have been involved have shown commitment in getting us to the right place and I think it is important to emphasise that those community services have been in place and have been providing care to the people of South Tyneside for some time now.
“It’s the bed-based care that we have got a few more months to wait for, but I believe that this model will end up being far better than anything we even thought we might have been able to deliver when we first started these conversations.”
Pat Harle MBE, Governing Body Lay Member, added: “It’s a really good update and again like most things I always go back to why are we doing this?
“It really takes me back to the title [of the update report] which sums it up, the best possible care whatever your preferences are.”
Haven Court is a state-of-the-art building in its own separate area of the South Tyneside hospital site.
Purpose-built to provide care services, it has a private garden and its own separate car park and entrance.
Further reports on South Tyneside’s new palliative care model and the quality of services at Haven Court are expected to return to the CCG’s Governing Body in future.
Matt Brown added: “I think we have really high aspirations for the services we deliver for the people of South Tyneside.
“The challenge has been getting really sustainable, real-world solutions to meet the aspirations that we have and I hope we have got that.”