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Building on the Best

A joint project by the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care and Macmillan, Building on the Best is a new programme which aims to bring health professionals, patients, carers and families together to improve how hospitals support people who may be approaching the end of their life.

Around half of people who die in Scotland die in hospital. This means that it is important that hospitals are places where people receive good care at the end of their life. Hospitals also have an important role in caring for people who may eventually die elsewhere, since an admission to hospital sometimes prompts patients, carers and families to discuss and plan for their future care.

There are many challenges to delivering good palliative care and end-of-life care in busy hospital wards. One central challenge is that, whilst declining health is easy to spot, it is difficult for doctors be certain when a person is going to die. “Will the patient get well enough to leave hospital this time?” can be a hard question to answer.

This means that doctors, nurses patients and families are all dealing with great uncertainty. In these circumstances it can be helpful to think about different future scenarios. What if my health continues to decline? What if I go home but I get unwell again in a few months? What are my priorities in life now that my good health is so uncertain? In a high-pressure hospital environment it can be difficult for doctors and nurses to find the right opportunity to talk sensitively with people about these sorts of issues.

Patients and families may be unprepared or unwilling to discuss these matters at such a distressing time, and find it difficult to cope with the uncertainty that declining health can bring. A particular focus of this project will therefore be to enable good communication between patients, families and staff so that shared decision-making can take place.

Initial work is being undertaken in one site and the project aim is to work in three locations eventually. Staff, patients, carers and families will be asked about their experiences of end-of-life care and communication in hospital, what is good and where improvements can be made. These insights will inform the development and testing of practical improvements. The hope is that the lessons learned from this work can improve patient experiences in hospitals across the country.

Annual Conference 2016

Over 220 people attended the SPPC Annual Conference on 22 September, and film footage of plenary speakers is now available to view online.

The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care Annual Conference took place on Thursday 22 September, at the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh.

The full programme for the day can be viewed here.

A summary of some highlights from the day is available in this article on ehospice by Caroline May.

Footage of plenary speakers can be viewed here.

Death Awareness Week - Survey and Report

We are currently seeking feedback on people's experiences of Death Awareness Week Scotland, which took place 8-15 May 2016.

If you can spare 3 minutes to fill in an online survey, we'd be interested to hear your thoughts. We are keen to hear from people who participated in awareness week, and also from those who did not.

A summary report relating to awareness week activity is available here: Death Awareness Week Scotland - Summary Report.

New group established to advise Scottish Government on Palliative Care

The Scottish Government is establishing a National Implementation Advisory Group to advise it on the implementation of the commitments set out within the Strategic Framework for Action. The members of the new group are:

  • Craig White (Chair), Divisional Clinical Lead, Planning and Quality Division, Scottish Government
  • Alan Baird, Chief Social Work Adviser, Scottish Government
  • David Clark, Director of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow
  • Ron Culley, Chief Officer, Western Isles Integrated Joint Board
  • Amy Dalrymple, Head of Policy, Alzheimer Scotland
  • Mark Hazelwood, Chief Executive, Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care
  • Colette Ferguson, Executive Director of Nursing and AHPs, NHS National Education Scotland
  • Beth Hall, Policy Manager, Convention Of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Ann Holmes, Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Government
  • Jeremy Keen, CMO Specialty Advisor for Palliative Medicine
  • Paul Leak, Integrated Resource Framework Lead, Scottish Government
  • Kate Lennon, Chief Executive, St Vincent’s Hospice
  • Donald Macaskill, CEO, Scottish Care
  • Maria McGill, Chief Executive, Children’s Hospice Association Scotland
  • Peter McLoughlin, Strategic Planning Manager, NHS Lothian
  • Mairi MacPherson, Head Person Centred and Quality Unit, Scottish Government
  • Alpana Mair, Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Scottish Government
  • Marjory Marshall, Health Economist, Scottish Government
  • Richard Meade, Head of Policy and Public Affairs – Scotland, Marie Curie
  • Anne Mills, Chief Executive, Ardgowan Hospice
  • Scott Murray, St Columba’s Hospice Chair of Primary Palliative Care, University of Edinburgh
  • Christina Naismith, National Lead for Strategic Commissioning, Scottish Government
  • John Nugent, Senior Medical Officer for Primary Care, Scottish Government
  • Eddie Turnbull, Head of eHealth, Scottish Government
  • Tim Warren, Policy Lead for Palliative and End of Life Care, Scottish Government
  • June Wylie, Head of Implementation and Improvement, Healthcare Improvement Scotland

The first meeting of the group will take place on Friday 3rd June. The key contact at the Scottish Goverment relating to the Strategic Framework for Action is Tim Warren, Policy Lead for Palliative and End of Life Care.

To Absent Friends: Activity Report and Evaluation

We have published a report reflecting on the success of last year's To Absent Friends festival. The report outlines the aims and rationale behind the festival, and gives an overview of festival activity. The report explores ways of evaluating the effectiveness of the festival, and reflects on learning gained.

The full report can be accessed here: To Absent Friends: Activity Report and Evaluation 2015

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