We want people to live well with us, making the most of every single day. If that means being together until the end of life, we want them to die well with us too, as fully supported as possible and on their terms.
To help with practical help for our teams – and therefore our residents and their families – we have produced our first End of Life Care Manual, an internal document for all staff.
It starts off with thinking ahead and understanding the different elements of advance care planning, reflecting the importance of good clinical skills.
We explain how to recognise those symptoms indicating that someone has indeed begun to reach the stage where they are dying. We then discuss how to
co-ordinate care in the final weeks of life, including symptom control and pain management.
The manual offers guidance on taking a holistic and spiritual approach, in line with the resident’s wishes. This can involve input from non-clinical colleagues such as our Companionship Team and Music & Arts Partner.
For when the time comes, there is useful help on how best to support those bereaved and understand the stages of grief they experience.
“The manual is designed to share knowledge across the whole team so we can offer the best possible, practical care provision,” says Quality Manager Jo Janes. “We aim to ensure that all staff are comfortable and well versed in how to communicate around people’s wishes at end of life. The manual is aligned with the national end of life care strategy including resources based on the work of hospices, but importantly we have taken all that learning and made it bespoke to Colten Care. It’s about applying knowledge in a practical way.”
The manual has had input from many experts in nursing at our homes including, on dementia care planning, Hayley Geddes, Clinical Lead at St Catherines View in Winchester.
Hayley says: “Residents living with dementia may not be able to communicate their wishes as they move towards end of life, so having an agreed end of life care plan in place is absolutely vital. We contributed learnings from our experiences in trying to make the environment as calm, comfortable and friendly for our residents as possible.”
We are now rolling out the content of the manual through team sessions with Home Managers, Clinical Leads and wider staff at home and departmental levels.
Reflecting our strong belief that good end of life care should extend to supporting families and friends afterwards, we hold an annual Celebration of Life Day. This an opportunity for relatives, friends, current residents and staff to get together in person and reminisce about those who have passed away in the previous year. Held every summer since 2017, it is typically a heartfelt event featuring poems, music, hymns, readings, prayers and the posting of written messages on ‘memory trees’.