Overview of the Improving Outcomes for People Approaching the End of Life conference
by Emily Garside Service Developer – Analytics
‘Outcome’ is a word which is heavily used in healthcare and it was the focus of the Improving Outcomes for People Approaching the End of Life conference on Wednesday. Opening the conference were two speakers: Brian, who cared for his wife Jean who had dementia for nine years, and Lynn and her gay partner who cared for her son with complex health needs who passed away seven months ago. The emotive presentations given by these two speakers about their experiences as carers, ensured that the human element in ‘outcomes’ infused the event; reminding the audience that at the end of an outcome, is a real patient and a real carer. It was heartening to hear that Brian’s wife Jean had received Marie Curie Nurses during the last period of her life and that the "service provided to Jean was exemplary". Both speakers also emphasised the importance of communication early on in the end of life journey and support to carers after death.
More work to be done
Marie Curie’s Chief Executive Dr. Jane Collins spoke in the morning alongside Dr. Martin Bardsley, Director of Research at the Nuffield Trust. Together they presented the Nuffield Trust Report on the impact of the Marie Curie Nursing Service and the recent report Death and Dying: Understanding the Data. In her presentation, Jane also highlighted that whilst end of life care has seen a vast improvement in the past four years, there is much work to be done, especially in the community where we need to ensure that the quality of care meets people’s expectations. She argued that we need more outcome measures from patients themselves and that whilst a home death is an important indicator, it should not automatically be seen as a proxy for good care, nor should it be allowed to eclipse other important measures such as pain relief, or patients being surrounded by their loved ones in their final days. She also emphasised the increasing challenges of supporting patients with multiple conditions and their families.
Marie Curie End of Life Care Atlas
It was fantastic to see the Marie Curie End of Life Care Atlas used in a presentation by Dr. Dee Traue, Medical Director of the Isabel Hospice. She demonstrated how the Atlas was being used in the East of England to change service provision; encouraging audience members to use the Atlas to "drill down into your region" and describing it as a "powerful" tool. She also explained that in all areas in the East of England where quality of care was rated as outstanding, the common denominator was the Marie Curie Delivering Choice Programme. Marie Curie’s exhibition stand was busy throughout the day and delegates were particularly interested in the Nuffield Report, Marie Curie’s work with acute hospitals and patients with a non-cancer diagnosis. In summary it was a thought provoking event and it was inspiring to see so many healthcare professionals and patient and carer advocates working together and thinking along the same lines.