Esther Rantzen welcomes new care plan for terminally ill

A new initiative designed to give terminally ill patients at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital the “good death” that they want has been welcomed by TV presenter Esther Rantzen.

And Esther Rantzen will be at NNUH on Friday 29 June to speak at a study day organised by the palliative care team. The TV presenter highlighted the taboos surrounding death and dying in a BBC documentary, “How to have a Good Death”, after her husband, Desmond Wilcox, died from heart disease.

Taking a lead from the hospice model of care, the new ‘Liverpool Care Pathway’ (LCP) introduced at NNUH is designed to prepare staff, patients and their loved ones for the inevitable time when death will occur.

“I'm delighted that the Liverpool Care Pathway is having such a positive impact at NNUH as this is a subject very close to my heart,” said Esther Rantzen. “No one can be guaranteed a good death but following these guidelines could increase our chances of dying as we would most wish, with privacy and dignity.”

Macmillan nurse Emma Harris, who is a member of the palliative care team at NNUH, said; “Dying well means something different for everyone but it generally includes maintaining dignity and autonomy, having choices and receiving appropriate pain relief, as well as emotional and spiritual support. I am passionate about this whole subject – not just for the sake of the patients but also for the relatives who must wait and watch as their loved ones die. “

As soon as a patient is judged to be near death – a decision taken by the entire multidisciplinary team – the LCP guidelines come into play. Staff have a duty to check on the patient regularly, talk to the relatives and give prescribed medications for symptom control, without waiting for a doctor.

At NNUH the new LCP was first adopted on Guist Ward a year ago and the results have been impressive. The LCP is being rolled out to 11 wards and by January 2009 the goal is that all our wards will be using the guidelines and that all staff will be aware of how they, as individuals, can make a real difference at a highly emotional time.

What is the Liverpool Care Pathway?

The Liverpool Care Pathway's main aims are:

• To provide better communication between patient, family and health care professionals involved in the care of the patient, to help them become more aware of the typical features of the dying process.

• To promote guidelines for the facilitation of a ‘good death’

• To encourage discussion suggesting that death is part of ‘normal’ life.

• To give practitioners more confidence to prescribe medications that may have associations with sedation or other side effects.

• To encourage team working to ensure that the care of all dying patients is the ‘best it can be’ (NHS Cancer Plan 2000).

Tuesday 5th of June 2007 06:00:52 AM