A cash injection of £275,000 will improve the standards of care for Lancashire and South Cumbria’s sickest children, thanks to a new partnership between the NHS and Derian House Children’s Hospice.
The money will pay for healthcare professionals from across the region to access training from experts at Chorley-based Derian House Children’s Hospice, to ensure children and young people get the very best palliative and end of life care wherever they receive treatment.
The money – £100,000 of which comes from NHS England matched funding, with the rest supplied by Derian House – will be spend on a combination of face to face training sessions both in the hospice and across different locations, and remote sessions to make them accessible to everyone.
Subjects will include everything from symptom management for children with life-limiting conditions and advance care planning, to how to have difficult conversations.
The partnership will be hosted by the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) – a new NHS statutory organisation bringing the NHS together locally to improve population health and replacing Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
Derian House has recently recruited a new Clinical Education Manager and will be hiring two Clinical Practice Educators to help develop and deliver the new programme of education.
The project has begun with a scoping exercise to ensure the project reaches the right people and has the maximum impact.
The education boost will put Derian House Children’s Hospice at the pinnacle of children’s hospice care and confirm its status as the specialist centre for palliative care for children and young people in Lancashire and South Cumbria.
Derian House Children’s Hospice looks after more than 400 babies, children and young people from across the North West.
The charity’s collaboration with local hospitals has been hailed as an example of best-practice by NHS England.
Last year, Advanced Clinical Practitioners (ACPs) from Derian House began working with the children’s team at Royal Preston Hospital to help more families benefit from the hospice’s specialist care.
One family who have benefitted are Holly Nixon and her son Alfie, from Adlington in Chorley.
Two-year-old Alfie was born with a rare genetic disorder, causing him to have frequent seizures. He spent much of last winter in hospital after suffering from chest infections, pneumonia and then COVID.
Whilst on the children’s ward at Royal Preston Hospital, visiting Derian House staff were able to offer support.
Holly said: “It felt like we lived in hospital over the winter and to just have someone from Derian House there who knew Alfie was such a comfort. When your child is in hospital you can feel very isolated and separate from the rest of the world. It was so nice to see a friendly face, people who knew in our outside life.
“When we were discharged from hospital, having Derian House there for aftercare was such a lifeline. I know that Derian House will be there for me if I needed help and couldn’t cope.”
Lynn Grayson, Director of Clinical Services at Derian House Children’s Hospice, said: “We are thrilled to receive this matched funding from NHS England in order to deliver education and training to healthcare professionals in our region.
“It is so important that every child receives the very best care at the end of their lives, whatever setting they are in and it is our aim that every single caring contact with a child will be individually-tailored to their specific needs.
“Every professional looking after children with life-limiting illnesses needs to be competent and up to date in the knowledge and practices that enable them to play their part in good end of life care. Setting up a framework for education will allow them to achieve and maintain this.
“We are really proud of what we have achieved at Derian House in gaining exemplar status. This funding will allow us to cascade our specialist knowledge throughout the region to ensure children and young people get the very best care possible.”
Dr Lyndsey Dickinson, GP and Associate Medical Director (Primary Care) and SRO for Palliative and End of Life Care said: “This exciting collaboration will mean that by developing or refreshing their specialised knowledge and skills, staff will be empowered to provide the best possible quality of palliative and end of life care and support which will make such a difference for those children, young people and their families when and where they may need it most.”