Help for people with life-limiting illnesses launched

A service commissioned to help people with life-limiting illnesses manage their condition at home has been launched in East Berkshire to coincide with Dying Matters Weeks*. Commissioned by the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in the east of Berkshire, the new ‘Rapid Response Service’ was launched on Monday (8/5) by Thames Hospice who is responsible for providing the service working alongside others.

The new community service includes a palliative care telephone service, to give advice to local people on the End-of-Life Care Register and their families, as well as healthcare professionals who need guidance and support on delivering palliative care. The specialist team is available 24/7, 365 days a year, to provide guidance on symptom control, practical advice and emotional support.

As part of the service there is also a Rapid Response Team (RRT), made up of a Registered Nurse and Health Care Assistant, ready to make urgent visits to patients on the End-of-life Care Register. The RRT will also support their loved ones.

Jacquie Batchford, Thames Hospice Director of Patient and Family Services, said: “I am delighted that we are able to offer this new service to further support those people in our community who are facing the last year of their life. It will be reassuring for many to know that they will be able to pick up the phone and talk to a palliative care expert, at any time of the day or night, to manage their condition and, if possible, prevent unnecessary hospital visits.”

Dr Anant Sachdev, the end-of-life care lead and palliative care specialist for the CCGs in the east of Berkshire, said: "A lot of people have excellent care in hospitals, hospices, care homes or their own homes when they are dying, but many others do not. Some people experience unnecessary pain and are not able to die where they want to. They can end up dying in hospital instead, because they suddenly get very ill and their carer can’t cope, or health professionals are unable to access the right advice.

“Therefore, I am pleased that the CCG is commissioning a Rapid Response Service in partnership with Thames Hospice, which provides high-quality care. The new service will be open 24 hours every day of the year to offer advice to patients, families, carers and health professionals. Our sincere hope is this will bridge any gaps in getting the right care and the kind of death people want, where they want."

If you or someone you know requires support or advice on palliative or end-of-life care, please call the team on 01753 848925. To find out more about the services offered by Thames Hospice click https://thameshospice.org.uk/patients-our-services

*A national awareness campaign run by the National Council for Palliative Care, highlighting the importance of talking about death and bereavement.