Health Minister Edwin Poots has said an innovative new programme for palliative and end of life care will improve people’s experience of care at the end of their life.
The Minister was speaking at the Northern Ireland Hospice as he launched the ‘Palliative and End of Life Care Learning and Development Programme’ and the ‘Learning Development Programme’ for nursing homes in Northern Ireland.
The Minister said: “Palliative and end of life care is about what we as a society can do to support those people who require high quality, dignified and compassionate care through the last stages of their life.
“I welcome this new and innovative learning and development programme for nursing homes throughout Northern Ireland. It marks a great step forward in promoting the delivery of high quality care and person centred palliative and end of life care that our population deserve.”
The Minister also paid tribute to the enthusiasm of the Northern Ireland Hospice, Marie Curie Cancer Care and the Royal College of Nursing which brought their collective expertise to design and develop the programme.
The Health and Social Care Board has invested over £750,000 in the programme. This is the first time that a health authority in the UK has invested in a bespoke training and development programme aimed at nurses working in the independent sector.
Speaking at the launch, Mr John Compton, Chief Executive, Health and Social Care Board, said: “The Board is pleased to be investing in this essential training and development. We have 266 registered nursing homes in Northern Ireland with approximately 3-4,000 registered nurses and 9-10,000 health care assistants providing care in this sector. This investment reflects the Commissioners commitment to ensuring all the staff provide care with humanity and compassion, safely and effectively, and to support senior nurses to manage with confidence and respect.
Transforming Your Care highlights the existence of a growing and ageing population in Northern Ireland and has set out proposals which highlight the role of the nursing home sector in the care of older people across the region. Nursing Homes will have a greater role to play in avoiding admissions for older people and for individuals who require enhanced support towards the end of their life."
Mary Hinds, Director of Nursing and Allied Health Professions, PHA, added: “At a time when the Health and Social Care system is facing unprecedented changes and there is an increasing demand for specialist care in Northern Ireland we need to respond to new and innovative treatments, devices and technology.
“Central to this is the need to provide a service that is person-focused, compassionate and caring. Nursing homes have a greater role to play in avoiding hospital admissions for older people and they need enhanced support to provide end of life care. The PHA welcomes this collaborative approach which will enable palliative and end of life care learning and development that will have a key part to play in the continued delivery of quality patient care throughout nursing homes in Northern Ireland, thereby improving people’s experiences of care at this stage of their life.”
Northern Ireland Hospice's Chief Executive, Professor Dame Judith Hill, a leading expert in the hospice and palliative care movement spoke on behalf of the key partners who will be involved in the delivery of the regional project. She said: "Northern Ireland Hospice, Marie Curie Belfast and the Royal College of Nursing will collaboratively work together to deliver this unique regional programme to Nursing Homes. Our combined sharing of best practice in nursing and palliative care will help create a more knowledgeable, more experienced and confident workforce. Most importantly this approach also puts patients and people at the heart of service delivery. The late Dame Cecily Saunders a nurse, physician and founder of the modern hospice movement reminded us that, "You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die."