Skip to main content
Palliative staff photo

Caring for those at the end of their life is hugely important for patients and their families and so Airedale Hospital has appointed two new specialist care co-ordinators this month, to enhance the care given on the wards.

Tracy Brown and Joanne Hunter have been appointed to the new roles of Macmillan End of Life Care Co-ordinators, in a one year project with the support of the charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

As part of their £5 million Macmillan Coronavirus Support Fund, the charity has invested £40,000 to improve the care of people who die at Airedale Hospital.  The Care Co-ordinators will be available 7 days a week and will specifically look after patients who are in the last days of their life, whatever their illness, and will become the support team to those patients and ensure that their physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met.  They will work alongside ward teams to ensure that the patient is kept comfortable, and has whatever they may need, whether it be a favourite cold drink or a visit from their pet.  They can support and be with those patients who don’t have any family to be with them, or whose family just can’t be there.

These new roles will also provide vital support for families, by helping them visit virtually and by being there with their loved one if the family can’t visit or need to take a break at home.  They will help with practicalities like arranging for a recliner chair so they can stay the night next to their loved one, let them know where they can go to get food and take a break, all to make things easier at this time.  They will also be there for families after their loved one has died, by providing bereavement support in the first few days and helping them cope with their grief.

Nellie Duckworth, Specialist Palliative Care Nurse at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust says:

“It means we’re able to provide fully holistic care for the patients and their families, and so there is someone to be there for those patients at the end of their life if their loved ones can’t be there.  It’s ensuring that we get it right.”

Linda Wilson, Consultant in Palliative Care at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust says:

“It is the first time we have had dedicated staff whose sole purpose is to provide comfort to people who are dying in hospital.

There are two often-used quotes about caring for patients at the end of life; ‘You only get one chance to get it right’ and ‘how someone dies lives on in the memory of those left behind’ – those are two important sentences.  Getting it right is important for both the patient and their family because the memory of what happened, how comfortable they were and how they were communicated with at that time affects their bereavement going forward.”

Linda continues:

“It is all about maximising the comfort of our patients who are coming to the end of their life and making sure that relatives feel really well supported.”

Joanne Hunter from Sutton in Craven is a health care support worker and has worked at the hospital for 5 years.  Joanne says:

“What attracted me to the role was the fact that you can really make a difference in those final days for people.  At the end of life the most important thing is for the patients to be as comfortable as they can be, so they are settled, with their family around them and for it to be as much as possible about what they want.  We try and arrange anything that the patient wants within our powers.  The main thing that people ask for is to have their family there, so they are not on their own.  This is one thing we can help with in case families need to take a break or go home for a short time, we can stay with them.”

Tracy Browne from Keighley previously worked at Manorlands Hospice in Oxenhope for 4 years.  Tracy says:

“The most important thing about the role is the support we can give, we will be able to go and sit with patients and check in with them and their families every day.  It is a very highly supportive role and it’s not just for patients with Covid-19, it is for patients at the end of their life on every ward.”

It is hoped the roles will continue after the initial one year project.

 Lisa Spivey is the Macmillan Partnership Manager for Yorkshire, she said:

“We’re delighted to be working in partnership Airedale NHS Foundation Trust to fund the two Macmillan End of Life Care Co-ordinators

“At Macmillan we’ve seen how choice and control at the end of a person’s life has a lasting and meaningful impact on patient care; as well as having a positive effect on the experience of friends and family left behind.

“We hope that the introduction of these roles will support Macmillan in our goal of being there for everyone facing cancer from the time they are first diagnosed.

“We are reliant on people’s generous donations to continue to support people living with cancer and they need us now more than ever.”