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Partnership working with St Giles Hospice

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Following on from Julia Sidhho’s blog about her support work at St Giles Hospice, Group Chief Executive of St Giles, Peter Holliday, discusses the benefits to patients.

In these times of an ageing population, there is an increasing need within our communities for both social and clinical care. With such a growth in demand for our services it is essential that we develop partnerships with organisations who share our values. We have had an interest in the support housing associations provide for some time recognising the link between health, housing and care. On meeting with Bromford we found an organisation that focused on the individual and their families in offering holistic care and support. 

In discussions with Bromford it became clear that housing support workers could have a significant contribution to make to healthcare generally and to St Giles specifically. We are very grateful for the support we have received from Bromford in piloting this model of care. My Home Support originated from a particular pressure we were facing with our clinical nurse specialists spending an increasing amount of their time supporting patients with issues such as benefits advice, accessing funding grants, social isolation and transport. My Home Support enabled Julia, working alongside the St Giles community team, to free up some of our clinical time in order to support the increasing number of patients being referred to us who needed their clinical skills.

We've always known that some people are fearful of the hospice, believing us to be a place where people go to die - we often hear: "I'm not ready for St Giles yet” – but much of our work is helping to control symptoms and pain, bereavement support and yes, end of life care. Eighty per cent of our care is within our communities, not actually in our buildings at all. There is plenty of research on the benefits of accessing hospice care early on in a patient’s journey but the fear of dying and misunderstanding about hospices can often prevent this early access.

Due to My Home Support, we are now able to offer patients who are nervous about accessing hospice care, the opportunity to receive support from Bromford. There are many examples where Julia has been able to gain access to a patient who has later gone on to accept hospice care. We also have referrals from patients who are struggling with access to general health and care services and need someone to help coordinate and organise support on their behalf.

We've been asked why we don't just recruit someone like Julia to join our team - our response to this is that the benefit of the partnership with Bromford is that we need many of the skills that housing support workers have to complement those of our team and we need those skills to remain up to date. Also for some patients it is the very fact that Julia is not St Giles that opens up access to the hospice through exploring and understanding people’s fears.

My Home Support is evidenced as improving wellbeing, reducing pain, reducing risk of falls and in avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions.

This is a truly personalised service and it is with great pleasure that we have been able to redesign our workforce to make this pilot project a mainstream element of our services. We continue to work with Bromford on trying to expand My Home Support and in exploring other ways we can increase access and provision of care together.

Photo shows Cher, a patient with two St Giles nurses.

To  keep up to date with St Giles follow them @stgileshospice