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Rosemarie Finley’s column

Thursday 22 August 2019

Joining forces to improve end-of-life care for patients with advanced liver disease

ThRosemarie Finley headshote clinical staff here at St Barnabas House are an ambitious and innovative team who are always exploring new ways to respond to the changing needs of the local community.

Our Consultant in Palliative Care, Suzanne Ford-Dunn, and Kim Batchelor, End Stage Liver Disease Nurse Specialist, have been working in collaboration with Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust and Worthing Hospital on a pioneering project to improve end-of-life care for patients with advanced liver disease.

Sadly, the numbers of people being diagnosed with liver disease in the UK is rising. People with end stage liver disease often have very complex needs, and because of this they are more likely than other chronic conditions to end their life in an acute hospital. In fact, figures show that nationally 73% of end stage liver disease deaths occur in hospital when most patients, given the choice, would prefer to be cared for at home or in a hospice.

The team have been working closely with liver patients to really understand their needs and wishes – helping them to create anticipatory care plans to avoid unwanted hospital procedures and enable them to die in their preferred place of choice when the time comes. After three years of hard work, I’m proud to announce that we have managed to completely reverse the national trend in the Worthing locality, with 73% of our advanced liver patients dying either at home or in the hospice, rather than the 27% national figure.

This collaborative approach is just one example of what can be achieved when we work together, sharing skills and expertise to ensure the care we provide is focused completely on the patient and their individual needs.