New end-of-life care service set up after closure of St Clare's Hospice launches in South Tyneside

A new end-of-life care service has launched in South Tyneside to help people with terminal illnesses and their families.

Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 9:41 am

Campaigners had hoped to see the service restored on the existing hospice site in Primrose Terrace.

But health chiefs concluded setting up a new end-of-life and palliative care service on the grounds of South Tyneside District Hospital would be the best option.

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Inside The Cedar Unit.

Bosses say the new service provides enhanced care and support in the community for people suffering life-limiting illnesses and are nearing the end of life, alongside a new dedicated ‘End of Life and Palliative Care’ unit at Haven Court.

The Cedar Unit will care for adults (aged 18 and over) who have a life-limiting illness and are in the last days or weeks of their life.

Health leaders say patients will receive 24-hour, holistic care to help manage their symptoms and make life more comfortable.

The team said six private rooms, situated on the ground floor of Haven Court, are newly decorated and have an ensuite bathroom with a walk-in shower and access to a calming garden area.

The Cedar Unit.

Accommodation is also available for relatives and friends who wish to stay with their loved one.

The Cedar Unit is supported by the community palliative care team from South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

The Trust said this means that patients admitted to The Cedar Unit will receive seamless care from the same specialist palliative care nurses who supported them at home.

The Trust is keen to stress the new service is not a hospice or a direct replacement for St Clare’s, adding: “South Tyneside was left without a dedicated inpatient palliative service following the closure of St Clare's Hospice in January 2019.

One of the rooms at The Cedar Unit.

"This service aims to bridge the gap in the provision. It forms part of a new clinical model which was will see a £1.5million investment in services, including the end-of-life facility and enhanced home and community care.”

Health chiefs said patients requiring end-of-life care are often admitted to hospital, usually via A&E, by their GP or district nurse and are usually cared for on general wards.

They say the new unit will provide a comfortable and homely environment for those who do not want to die in hospital or at home.

In the future, it is hoped the unit will become a hub for a range of services, including; day services, benefits/welfare advice, counselling, holistic therapies, physiotherapy and art therapy.

The team at The Cedar Unit.

Elaine Coghill, deputy director of nursing at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This new approach will transform the way end of life and palliative care is currently delivered in South Tyneside.

“We want the people to have as much choice and control as possible. Providing the right care, support and dignity at the end of life is important for every single patient. That's why we've also invested in community-based services for people who prefer to die at home or in a care home.”

Dr Nousha Ali, a local GP and clinical director at NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "It's important that patients have more choice at the end of their lives, so that everyone can have the best quality care, wherever they choose to be. We have already expanded community based teams who care for people who prefer to be at home, or in a care home, at the end of their life.

"The Cedar Unit is a calm and dignified place for people who prefer not to be at home or in hospital."

The Cedar Unit is located within Haven Court, a state-of-the-art integrated care facility in its own area within the South Tyneside District Hospital site.

Haven Court is a care home that specialises in residential and nursing care, dementia care and re-enablement.

It opened in 2016 and is a wholly owned subsidiary (South Tyneside Integrated Care Limited) of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust. In December 2020, Haven Court was rated ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission’ (CQC).