Plans for a better range of NHS end of life care services in South Tyneside will be considered at a meeting next week.
The Governing Body of South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for planning and commissioning most NHS services in the borough, will consider the £1.5 million proposal on Thursday 24 September.
The plan – entitled ‘The best possible care, whatever your preferences’ – sets out a vision for a range of high quality services, so that more people can choose where to spend their last days, knowing that support will be on hand for their needs.
In addition to a series of improvements to community-based end of life care services, the Governing Body will consider proposals for new ‘home from home’ bedrooms in South Tyneside for patients needing end of life care, who do not wish to die at home.
These would be based at Haven Court, a state-of-the-art building in its own quiet area on the South Tyneside hospital site.
Matt Brown, the CCG’s Executive Director of Operations, said: “People have told us they want more choice at the end of their lives, so that everyone can have the best quality care, wherever they choose to be.
“That means investing money in a range of services – to support people who choose to die at home, as well as providing a suite of new ‘home from home’ bedrooms for people who wish to make that choice.
“Haven Court can offer homely private bedrooms with en suite facilities, in a quiet and dignified setting. The building has its own separate garden, car park and entrance – things that many people have said are important to them.”
A key part of the proposal is an integrated workforce, supporting end of life services across the borough. Being close to the hospital will make it easier to coordinate these services well, with better access to clinical staff.
The proposal also includes plans for a dedicated family and carer room, with catering facilities in its own separate suite to allow people to be close by their loved ones.
Mr Brown added: “We have to learn lessons from what went wrong at St Clare’s. It would be a mistake to recreate a service that struggled with safety, staffing and finances, and was rated inadequate by inspectors.
“We want patients to have more personalised care, and we want to improve communication between different services so that families have more joined-up care in future.
“We are also keen to look at developing services like physio and occupational therapies, complementary therapies, counselling and a chaplaincy service.”
In recent years, around one in 20 deaths in South Tyneside took place in a hospice setting, with the majority at home or in a care home.
South Tyneside CCG previously contributed £800,000 per year to St Clare’s Hospice, and under the new proposal would invest a total of £1.5 million per year in end of life services in future.
End of life care: your questions answered
I feel it’s important that people in South Tyneside have access to a hospice service. What will be provided for us in the future?
Our aim is for everyone to have high quality care, whatever their preferences. We are investing more in community-based services for people who prefer to die at home, as well as private bedrooms in a quiet, respectful space at Haven Court.
Lots of people feel we should have a hospice on the old St Clare’s site in Jarrow. Why have you chosen not to do that?
We understand that people have strong feelings about St Clare’s. Sadly, it struggled with safety, staffing and financial problems, and inspectors rated it as inadequate and unsafe. We feel it would be a mistake to repeat those same weaknesses when we can offer people better quality care and more choice.
I want my loved ones to have dignity and peace at the end of their life. Will the new service be just another busy hospital ward?
Haven Court offers a quiet, calm and respectful space. It will provide four en suite bedrooms in their own section of the building, as well as a dedicated area for families to be close to their loved ones. Haven Court has its own garden, car park and separate entrance direct from McAnany Avenue.
There’s a ready-made building at Primrose Hill. Surely it would make sense to just use that?
We know that many people feel an attachment to the building at Primrose, but its location was not ideal for this service. We carried out a detailed ‘co-design’ process in which local people and experts helped us to shape our vision for future end of life services, and people were clear that any future end of life care service would benefit from being closer to, but not inside, South Tyneside Hospital. Haven Court is a prime choice and exactly the sort of facility that will enable us to provide the highest possible standard of care for the future.
Where do people in South Tyneside choose to end their lives?
In recent years, around 66 (less than one in 20) deaths per year in South Tyneside took place in a hospice, with an average of 738 people at home or in a care home. This proposal will continue to provide community support for the vast majority of people who choose to die at home or in a care home, but will also provide the option for people to choose the new end of life care service proposed for Haven Court.
Why was St Clare’s Hospice shut down?
St Clare’s hospice was an independent charity, and closed in January 2019 because it was insolvent. The closure of St Clare’s was a sad moment for many people, but it was not an NHS decision.
Will there be a service for people who prefer to die at home?
Yes. We want people to have more choice, knowing that they will have high quality care, whatever they choose. We are already investing an extra half a million pounds per year into community palliative care services for people who prefer to be at home, and this will continue.