People who are approaching the end of their lives are to be assured the highest standard of care – thanks to new “commitments” made by health and social care leaders.

Greater Manchester leaders have approved a series of commitments which aim to ensure people can live well in the last year of their life, before dying as comfortably as possible, in the place of their choice.

The “commitments” document outlines how people who care for the dying should work closely with that person and their families and carers to plan the care they want.

The new “commitments” have been supported by the Greater Manchester and Eastern Cheshire Strategic Clinical Networks, which are part of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSC Partnership).

They were agreed by the Greater Manchester Health and Care Board at its meeting on Friday 31 May, the papers can be read here.

It is hoped this improvement will see in the future an end to different standards of care across the region and between different groups of people.

The “Greater Manchester commitments to palliative care individuals approaching or within the last year of life” include:

  • People in the last year of their lives should be offered the opportunity to speak to a care professional
  • The care they need should be discussed and agreed with them
  • Everyone should expect to receive the treatment and support they want, when and where they want it
  • Access should be available seven days a week to care or advice from palliative care specialists in any setting, whether at home, hospice, or at hospital
  • Training will be available to support a skilled workforce
  • Carers should be supported and helped, if they wish

People and organisations from across Greater Manchester with experience of supporting people at the end of their lives contributed their views over how things should be improved earlier this year.

One of the main aims of the new “commitments” is to increase the number of people who die in the place of their choice. Although research suggests most people would prefer to die at home, statistics show 50 per cent of people in Greater Manchester die in hospital, which is five per cent above the national average.

Also, there is a drive to make sure vulnerable groups, such as the homeless, people with learning disabilities, and people with dementia, receive access to the right treatment. A national report in 2016 found some groups did not always get access to services.

GMHSC Partnership chief officer Jon Rouse said:

“We want to make sure everyone has access to the right care at the right time – and that is especially important at the end of life.

“That means we need to talk to patients, carers and families about their wishes so people can live well and die in the place they have chosen with peace and dignity.

“We want to ensure care is skillfully and sensitively delivered, of a consistently high standard, and tailored to an individual’s needs and wishes.

“The standard of care is already outstanding in many places, but there is room for improvement in some areas, which our commitments document will help achieve.”

A plan to make the improvements necessary to meet the “commitments” will now be finalised. Implementation of the changes will be overseen by a board of professionals and others who are involved in providing end of life care.

Work to implement the commitments has already begun. It includes training that took place during Dying Matters Week earlier this month for people who work in the NHS or hospices to help them to have conversations about preparing for end of life.

Hospices in Greater Manchester will also help drive the improvements in the city region. They have joined forces as the GM Hospices Initiative to collaborate together and influence the future of end of life care, working with the new board.

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