How Marie Curie leads on local partnerships for excellent and innovative care

We look at two key partnerships where Marie Curie is working with others to improve end of life care for local communities.

In July 2016 the government published its response to last year’s Review of Choice in End of Life Care. 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 lead on end of life care nationally and provide support for local leadership to prioritise and improve end of life care. 

We know that across the country, there’s currently too much variation in end of life care provision. Where someone lives, what disease they die from, and how old they are can all affect the quality of care they will receive. And this means many people don’t get the care or support which they themselves, or their loved ones, would hope for. 

That’s why the recent commitment by the Government to offer support for local leadership is an important step forward. By doing so, service providers may be able to receive the help they need to meet the needs of their local communities. Here are two examples highlighting how local partnerships can work to address specific areas of need. 

Improving care in London

In 2013, Marie Curie and a number of other organisations and individuals, launched the Pan-London End of Life Alliance  a social movement that’s working to improve care and support for Londoners living with a terminal illness, and their families. 

The alliance was set up in response to data that showed the quality of end of life care in London was lower than the national average, with a huge variation in the overall standard of services provided by the 32 different London boroughs.

By pooling together the experience and expertise of healthcare, social care and voluntary sector organisations as well as lay individuals, the alliance is identifying key areas for improvement across the capital. The aim is to ensure services in London work for the people who need them, support individual choice and are consistently high quality, and that end of life care is kept on the agenda of decision-makers in the capital.

Dr Jane Collins, Chief Executive at Marie Curie and co-chair of the alliance, believes that this localised alliance has the potential to be a real game changer in improving end of life care for Londoners. She said: “As a leading end of life care charity and founding member of the alliance, we’re committed to ensuring that the right care and support is delivered to the right people, at the right time, in the right place.”

Better support for people with advanced heart failure

Heart failure is a terminal condition, and one of the most prevalent in Scotland. However, we know that the care given to people living with advanced heart failure is still suboptimal. This means that, in the later stages of heart failure, people often experience a poor quality of life and feel unsupported. They have limited access to palliative and end of life care services, especially when compared to those people with a cancer diagnosis.

To help more people with advanced heart failure to have better care and support that meet their needs, Marie Curie, the British Heart Foundation Scotland and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde worked in partnership on the Caring Together programme. Through this programme, we’ve developed and piloted an innovative model of providing palliative and supportive care at three clinics in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

With our new way of working across palliative care and cardiology teams, including the on-going provision of training and education for local healthcare professionals, we’ve helped more patients with advanced heart failure to have their end of life care needs assessed and met. This has enabled choice in their place of care and led to an improvement in people’s quality of life and support for their families.

What’s next?

Supporting local leadership can help more providers to understand and deliver end of life care that fits local needs.

To this end, the Government must continue identifying and supporting local innovations as part of its national commitment to deliver personalised, high quality end of life care. After all, excellent innovative work that happens at a local level can potentially create a much wider impact by influencing care provision in many other areas. 

Read more about Marie Curie’s policy work.