The Somerset Delivering Choice Programme was a winner at the Care Integration Awards

by Karen Burfitt Head of Service Design (West and North) Karen Burfitt and colleagues at the Care Integration Awards

This time last week I was eagerly awaiting the Care Integration Awards, at which the Somerset Delivering Choice Programme (DCP) was up for a prestigious award. The Care Integration Awards recognise organisations at the forefront of offering integrated care to local communities ensuring health and wellbeing needs are better understood and addressed.

I’m delighted to say that we won the award, although we were up against some stiff competition, including another Marie Curie service based in Glasgow. The North East Glasgow Palliative Care Fast Track Discharge Service which was set up by Marie Curie in partnership with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde last February, enables terminally ill patients to be cared for in their own homes towards the end of their lives. Winning the award is a fantastic achievement and recognition of everyone's hard efforts to improve end-of-life care in Somerset and North Somerset. The judges called the Somerset DCP an outstanding example of a service redesign which has sustainability and individual care preferences as its cornerstone. They also cited that this model of care offered tremendous learning for others to follow. According to research, more than 60% of people in the UK would choose to die at home if they were suffering from a terminal illness, but the sad truth is that this very rarely happens. In Somerset alone, just 22% of people die at home with the figure for North Somerset even lower at 19%. Since the programme launched those receiving the Marie Curie Delivering Choice Programme were 67% less likely to die in hospital in North Somerset and 80% less likely in Somerset, compared to those not on the programme. As well as this, emergency admissions in Somerset during the last month of life were 39% lower for DCP users and A&E attendances were 34% lower.

A new patient-focused model

Care Integration AwardSomerset has a large ageing population meaning that the pressure on palliative care is only going to increase, meaning that effective end-of-life care is paramount. Working in partnership with local NHS, social services, and the voluntary sector, we developed a new patient-focused service model that enabled more terminally ill patients’ choice in their place of care and death. Through their success, the services have ensured the practical delivery of patient choice as well as provided key support and sensitive care for families and carers. The feedback that we have received from patients and their families has been extremely positive and we hope that we can continue to provide this much needed support to those who need it in the area. The success of the programme of course rests on the strong collaborative working between ourselves, other providers and those who commission services. Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group has since developed end-of-life services which reflect the learning and achievements of the Delivering Choice Programme.  As a consequence, palliative care patients nearing the end of their lives can now experience services that offer more choice of where they die, regardless of their diagnosis, along with better planning, choice and coordination of high-quality care.