How Marie Curie drives innovation in the delivery of high-quality care

In July the government published its response   to the Review of Choice at the End of Life  . The response outlines seven key areas for improvement to ensure the government meets its commitment to high-quality end of life care. One of these areas is to identify and spread innovation in the delivery of high-quality care

We know the difference our services make to the lives of people with a terminal illness, and their families, friends and carers. Through a focus on innovation, as exemplified below, we are constantly looking to improve those services and support the government’s vision to deliver high-quality end of life care. 

A nurse t

The first Modern Matron for palliative and end of life care 

In 2014, we began a partnership with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to deliver better, co-ordinated care in hospital and community settings for people living with any terminal illness, and their families. 

The partnership is delivered by a combination of clinical nurse specialists and Marie Curie Nurses, working closely with the hospital palliative care consultants. They are supported by Michele McKidd, the first ever Modern Matron in palliative and end of life care, who is responsible for ensuring that excellent standards of care are being delivered across the partnership. 

Michele says: “My role is to make sure teams have the right staff in the right place and that they have the resources they need to carry out their roles competently and efficiently – with patient choice always at the heart. I also make sure all of the teams, both in the community and surrounding hospitals, are joined up and working together. I help facilitate relationships between all teams, to ensure that they all refer to each other and communicate together too.” 

Michele McKidd
Michele McKidd

This ambition to provide seamless services to people when they need them the most is supported by technology that lets specialist palliative care teams know – in real-time – when a patient they care for is being admitted to hospital. 

Electronic alerts are sent via email to nurses’ phones, enabling them to respond efficiently to their patients, regardless of the ward they have been admitted to. This helps patients to get the specialist care and support they need, as quickly as possible, whenever they’re admitted to hospital. 

A new way to support carers 

Caring for Carers in Wales is a partnership with local health boards, local authorities and voluntary organisations in Wales to deliver a series of workshops and information sessions developed specially for carers. As part of the programme we set up a Carers’ Café at our Cardiff hospice, where carers are welcomed with a cuppa, a cake and the chance to chat. 

Maureen Kettlety is one of over 300 carers who’ve benefitted from the service since it launched in March 2015. Maureen has been helping to care for her sister Annie, who was diagnosed with cancer in November last year. Their parents were cared for at the Marie Curie Hospice, Cardiff and the Vale, and Maureen says the café is a “fantastic” resource for local carers. 

“It can be lonely when you’re supporting somebody, but if I do have a few bad days, I know I can come here and there will be people around who I can speak to and who can give me support. There’s always a good listening ear. I can bring my sister along to share things that she may not want to talk about in front of her family. You can learn about the services that are available, like the day therapy unit and reflexology, and get information about other support.” 

Sarah Johnson, who has been running the café, says she has been blown away by the project’s success. “When we set up the first café a year ago, we never could have imagined supporting over 300 carers in a little over 20 sessions. We’ve been really pleased with the positive response. I think the most rewarding thing has been the feedback that we’ve received – that this café is making a real difference for the carers who attend, often providing them with support at a time when they need it the most.” 

Women at a Marie Curie Carers Cafe on St David's Day
Caring for Carers Project Coordinator, Sarah Johnson, with carer Maureen Kettlety at the St David’s Day Carers’ Café

What’s next? 

The examples above demonstrate how new ideas can further improve the already high-quality care we provide. Moreover, we are always looking for the opportunity to test new initiatives and share knowledge with our partners so that programmes that are proven to work locally can be rolled out at a national level.

That’s why we will continue to work with the government and other partners to identify and spread innovation in the way we deliver the care and support people need and deserve at the end of their lives.

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