New end of life care approach for nurses

A national palliative care charity has developed a new approach to end of life care based on the Human Rights Act.
End of life

A national palliative care charity has developed a new approach to end of life care based on the Human Rights Act

Sue Ryder, which provides hospice and neurological care, has received a grant from the Burdett Trust for Nursing to train nurses and other health professionals.

The charity has worked with the British Institute of Human Rights to create A Human Rights Approach to End of Life Care and will deliver training in applying the resource from early next year.

Pragmatic approach

The charity’s chief nurse Sue Hogston said the programme draws on case law to facilitate discussion and provides a pragmatic way of putting theory in practice.

Ms Hogston said: ‘It is going to have a big impact. We can get organisational and cultural change out of this approach.’

‘Because of what happened with the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), and some people’s misconceptions of the Human Rights Act, we want to deliver a training programme.’

The now-abolished LCP was reviewed following concerns about its use. This led to an agreement about the need to involve patients in decisions about their care.

Recognising rights

Kelly Critcher, clinical specialist nurse in palliative care at Northwick Park Hospital, London, welcomed the new resource with interest. ‘It sounds like a great move. Being able to use human rights to strengthen an argument is helpful,’ she said.

‘Moves toward treating people as individuals and recognising their rights is useful and I am interested in taking the training.’

The approach draws on:

  • The right to life.
  • The right to be free from inhuman or degrading treatment.
  • The right to liberty.
  • The right to private and family life, home and correspondence.
  • The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
  • The right to enjoy all human rights without discrimination.

Ms Hogston said professionals should be able to identify which human right is applicable in a given situation and assess the effect of specific decisions or actions on someone’s rights.

‘This approach will help deliver good quality care that is person‑centred and accountable, and balances the needs of individuals against those of others and the wider community.’

Cause for complaint

In May, the Care Quality Commission highlighted that end of life services in 42% of acute hospitals – almost half – were rated as 'inadequate' or 'requires improvement'.

The Dying Matters coalition says that more than half of complaints referred to the NHS Ombudsman in England concern end of life care.

Following some pilot workshops, the Sue Ryder training will start to be rolled out from next year, is free of charge and is available to any health professional.

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