THE Southern Trust recently held a palliative care master class to assist healthcare professionals recognise the importance of planning care for patients at the end of their lives.
The master class which was funded by Macmillan Cancer Support was attended by 66 delegates including GP’s, District Nurses, Social Workers, Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists.
Aileen Mulligan, Palliative Care Service Improvement Lead for the Southern Trust explained: “Palliative care is about providing the best possible care and support to individuals who have a condition which is not curable, from diagnosis through to the end of life.
“Palliative care focuses on treating each person as an individual, tailoring care to meet their needs and the needs of their families and carers. Palliative care can be provided in peoples own homes, in nursing homes or in some cases in a hospice or hospital setting.
“Research shows that many people who would have preferred to die at home spend their final days in hospital. In many cases this can be avoided if health and social care staff are aware of the person’s wishes so they can make the necessary arrangements.
Speaking about the master class, Aileen said: “The master class highlighted the significance of health and social care staff planning ahead with patients and their families to avoid having to react in a crisis as well as planning for a death with dignity. Giving individuals and their families the opportunity to talk about their condition and the impact of it on their lives is an important aspect of palliative care.”
Aileen added: “In the Southern Trust we have introduced ‘Advance Care Planning’. This is the process of supporting a person to think about the impact of an illness or disability and talk about their future care, with health and social care professionals and their family.
“By completing an Advance Care Plan a patient has a written record of their future care wishes and preferences. The development of Advance Care Planning is a key theme in Transforming Your Care, the review of Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland.”