CHILDREN in Lancashire are receiving better end-of-life care thanks to innovative new ways of working employed by a children’s hospice.
Derian House Children’s Hospice in Chorley has trained three members of staff as Advanced Clinical Practitioners – the level of a junior doctor.
The move means the hospice can now carry out advanced clinical assessments, identifying new problems and making sure children have appropriate medication.
The responsibilities of the new role will include co-ordinating palliative care, helping children and families organise advanced care plans as well as liaising with medical staff in hospitals to ensure seamless transfer of care between hospital, home and hospice.
Emma Pearson, Hayleigh Short and Suzanne Ward completed the two-year Masters qualification whilst working full-time at the hospice, juggling busy home lives and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new roles are part of plans to establish Derian House as the provider of specialist palliative and end of life care for all children across Lancashire, South Cumbria and Greater Manchester.
Emma Pearson, one of the newly-qualified ACPs at Derian House, said: “We are now qualified to assess children and young people at the hospice, whether they are showing new symptoms or if they appear to be unwell or deteriorating. We can then form a diagnosis and prescribe the relevant medication. This not only reduces the need to call GPs into the hospice as often but will hopefully prevent us from having to send children to hospital as we can manage more complex symptoms in-house.”
Derian House Children’s Hospice provides palliative, respite and end of life care to more than 400 children and young people from across the North West of England.
The practitioners studied on the work-based learning course at The University of Central Lancashire in Preston.
Hayleigh Short, ACP, said: “The course was really challenging but we are over the moon to have passed and proud to be part of a team that strives to provide outstanding care to all of the children, young people and families who access the hospice and to be part of its exciting plans for the future.”
Suzanne Ward, ACP, said: “In the past referrals had been delayed for patients receiving intravenous medication for end of life care and pain management. That is why I chose to develop and implement an educational training programme to equip a core group of practitioners with the skills to administer intravenous therapy.
“I am excited to be working with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to offer this training and I am beyond proud that Derian will be able to provide this service going forwards.”
The Covid-19 pandemic presented both challenges and opportunities for the practitioners.
“We weren’t able to access hospitals and spend time with other professionals due to the pandemic,” said Emma.
“Our roles were fast-tracked when GPs were unable to come into the hospice as regularly due to the restrictions. Looking back, it was a good thing because we had the opportunity to put our new and advanced skills into practice at a time when they were desperately needed.”
Lynn Grayson, Clinical Director at Derian House said: “We are always looking to improve the care we offer, and the introduction of this role supports us to establish Derian as a provider of specialist palliative and end of life care for children across Lancashire, South Cumbria and Greater Manchester.
I am full of admiration and respect for the way that the ACPs have dealt with all the challenges they have faced over the last two years, emerging as strong clinical leaders and role models.
We already seeing the difference their specialist knowledge and skills are making to the level of care we are delivering to children and young who access support from Derian.
It is thanks to the hard work and success of Emma, Hayleigh and Sue that we are now looking to grow the team of Advanced Practitioners and are currently recruiting for a trainee to join the team. This additional post is supported by the team at Royal Preston Hospital and will enable us to work collaboratively providing specialist in-reach care and advice.
“On a personal level, I look forward to seeing how they continue to develop within their role ensuring that the Derian team delivers the highest quality of care to all the children, young people and families who need it.”