High demand for new night time end of life care service

New service means patients close to end of life no longer have to go into hospital in the night

A rapid response end of life service that supports patients during the night has experienced higher than expected demand in its first three months.

The pal@home service introduced by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in December delivers expert nursing care within the hour to patients’ homes in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. It runs from 8pm to 8am seven days a week, so patients no longer need to go into hospital in the night or wait until the morning to see their GP.

'The main aim of the service is to help people to have a good death at home if that is their preference,' explained deputy head of nursing for the service Karen Titchener.

'Our nurses support patients to stay at home with their loved ones or have shorter hospital stays at probably the most difficult stage of their lives.

'Patients may need urgent symptom control such as pain relief or have a medical problem like a blocked catheter. They want to be seen quickly, especially at night. We are here to help and support them when they need it.'

It is an adjunct of the specialist palliative care service and also takes referrals from the trust’s hospital-at-home team. So far pal@home is receiving an average of 120 referrals a month, and taking five to ten calls a night. 'There was a vacuum here for this type of service so it took off from the word "go", we weren’t expecting to be as busy as quickly.' said Ms Titchener.

She added they are working with a researcher at London South Bank University to capture data on whether the service has facilitated patients' preferred deaths.

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