The Specialist Palliative Care (SPC) Team consists of two consultants, four specialist palliative nurses and three junior doctors and is based within the hospital.
The Specialist Palliative Care team works closely alongside nurses, doctors and other health professionals within the hospital including, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dieticians and chaplains in an advisory, educational and supportive capacity. They see patients with life limiting illnesses (including cancer, respiratory diseases, heart failure, renal failure, neurological conditions etc) at any stage from diagnosis onwards, for symptom control and psychological support. In the earlier stages of illness, palliative care is provided to complement and work alongside other active medical and therapeutic interventions in order to optimise quality of life.
The Specialist Palliative Care team provide a face to face service, Monday- Friday 09:00- 17:00 (excluding bank holidays), aiming to see urgent referrals within 24 working hours and all referrals within 48 hours of receipt.
There is also a 24/7 out of hours telephone advice line for health care professionals to provide advice and support as needed to ensure patients can access symptom control advice at any time of the day or night.
Following a referral to the team, a member of the team will undertake an initial assessment visit and, if required, will offer further specialist support. No referrals should be made unless the patient has given fully informed consent for this to happen. If the patient is unable to consent then the next of kin should be approached and asked to give consent for the referral. The patient should also be aware of their diagnosis before a referral is made.
Referrals to the SPC team can be for
- Specialist advice on controlling and managing a patient’s complex symptoms such as pain, nausea and vomiting.
- Complex psychological support for the patient and their family.
- Support with Advanced Care Planning conversations.
- Patients reaching the end of life to ensure they die in comfort (symptom free), with dignity and where at all possible in their chosen place of care.
- Advice on how to access welfare rights and benefits information via the Big C or Age Concern.
- Medical out patient assessments. The consultants hold clinics in the Colney Centre three times a week for patients with any advanced diagnosis, not just malignancy.
- Multidisciplinary breathlessness intervention service for patients with malignant and non-malignant disease.
- Assessment for suitability of transfer to Priscilla Bacon Lodge (PBL). PBL is a short term placement for patients with complex, severe and uncontrolled physical or psychological symptoms. Other services provided by Priscilla Bacon Centre include the Rowan Day Centre, Child and Family Therapy and Bereavement support.
The SPC team works closely and liaises with the community specialist palliative care services, primary healthcare teams, including GPs and district nurses, and discharge teams to ensure as smooth a transition of care as possible when patients move from one care setting to another.