A unique partnership between Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and Macmillan has made a real difference to patients coming towards the end of their lives in Solihull. The Palliative Care Occupational Therapy Service is a specialist team which helps people who may have months, weeks or just days to live.
Photo caption: Members of the MacMillan Occupational Therapy Team with (left) Maureen Johnson, Carer Governor, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
The specialist team works closely with the wider multidisciplinary palliative care team, across Solihull, Good Hope, Heartlands Hospitals, and receives referrals for patients with advanced malignant or non-malignant disease.
Macmillan Occupational Therapy team lead Lucy Davies explains: “We might see patients from the last 12 months of life right through to the last hours or days of life so their abilities can really vary. Sometimes we’re are looking at simple aids and adaptations like mobility aids, managing the stairs or managing washing and dressing, right through towards the end of life when patients might be nursed or hoisted to and from the bed.”
One of the big benefits of this project has been to allow more patients to be discharged from hospital to the place where they would most like to be in their last days, whether it’s at home or in a hospice. In fact, about 85 per cent of these patients are now getting to their preferred place of care. It’s created a smoother and quicker discharge process between hospital and home for patients.
The service also works to prevent unnecessary readmissions to hospital, to reduce a patient’s length of stay in hospital and to educate patients so they can improve their self-management of fatigue, anxiety and breathlessness.
Lucy adds: “Winning the award has been great in terms of being able to promote the value of occupational therapy within palliative care and it has also helped to raise our profile. We were really pleased and honoured to have won - we didn’t expect it.”
The team, which was launched four years ago with initial funding from Macmillan, has received lots of positive feedback from patients and their families.
One relative said: “We couldn’t have managed without you. Within a day you had arranged a hospital bed and all the other equipment mum needed and got a care package in place. I will never forget your help and the memories it has given us as a family having mum at home for her last Christmas.”
Another said: “Thank you for all the help you provided in enabling us to take care of mum at home during her illness. The family will be eternally grateful that she was able to spend the remainder of her life in her own home. Thank you once again for the amazing job you do and for all the help, support and compassion you show to families during a very difficult time in their lives.”
Judges of the award were impressed by evidence of the project going above and beyond for palliative care patients in Solihull. Staff have collected and assembled equipment from Solihull stores to expedite discharge, moved or taken away furniture to create space for equipment and even taking their own vacuum cleaners and cleaning materials to help families prepare to have their loved ones discharged home.