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Sharing Current Scottish Practice

This blog provides an opportunity for people to share examples of current Scottish palliative care practice that might be of interest to the palliative care community more widely. If you know of work underway that might be relevant for sharing on our website, please get in touch.

Poster Abstracts of the Month: September

The SPPC Annual Conference in 2018 featured 48 poster displays, sharing work and research underway across Scotland. Each month, this blog focuses on the content of a few of these posters. This month, we focus on six of these:

Pressure Ulcer Prevention in Palliative care


Katherine Hynd, Libby Milton

‘Pressure ulcers impose a significant financial burden on health care systems and negatively affect quality of life’ (Moore and Cowman 2013).

Marie Curie (MC) recognised that pressure ulcer (PU) prevention/ management was an area where practice could be improved.



• Creation of link nurse role

• Commitment by MC to support the development of link nurse

• Participation in national MC TV working group


• Review of risk assessment and implementation of updated assessment tool

• Low threshold to reporting all PUs acquired in our care regardless of grade

• Ensuring most appropriate equipment in place

• Review and development of documentation


• Developed teaching package for RNs and HCAs

• All staff included in roll out of teaching – face to face sessions to allow space for group

discussions and individualised learning

• Developed materials to display on the wards

• Link nurse role to offer support and guidance in practice

Cultural shift

• Every PU acquired in our care investigated and RCA completed, with feedback to the team

• Raised profile of patients who are at risk in patient safety briefs


• Incidence of PUs acquired in our care demonstrates sustained improvements, with 9 sequential

months data below previous average.

Raising Death Awareness in Thailand, the Case of Life Unlocking Card Game


Tanida Apichanakulchai; Deans Buchanan; Linda McSwiggan; Tharin Phenwan; Ekkapop Sittiwantana; Judith Sixsmith


Advance Care Planning (ACP) is an agreement of preferred care between patients, family, and the health care team should the patient become incapacitated. However, ACP uptake and awareness is still low in Thailand. The Life Unlocking Card Game is an intervention that aimed to use gamified element to raise ACP awareness. This study assessed the effectiveness of the Life Unlocking Card Game as a tool to raise death and ACP awareness in Thailand.


A retrospective feasibility study using a convenient sampling method with Thais participants who are older than 18 years old. 27 card game sessions were held during January 2014 and December 2016 with 342 participants. We used data from an anonymised pre-game and post-game survey for participants' demographical data and evaluation feedback. Data was analysed using thematic analysis with investigator triangulation.


Three themes emerged; 1) Closeness of death, 2) Co-construction of the meaning of death, 3) the obligation and importance of ACP.

Discussion and conclusion:

The Life Unlocking Card Game is a useful tool to raise death and ACP awareness amongst Thais. Further study is recommended with other groups such as the patients, carers, and healthcare professionals.

ReSPECT - Find out what it means to me


Dr Sean Duignan; Dr Lynsey Fielden; Dr Jennifer McNeill

‘ReSPECT’ (Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment) is a process which facilitates emergency and anticipatory care planning. All new admissions to an acute ageing and health receiving ward were screened between 10/5/18 and 10/6/18 for ReSPECT ‘triggers’. If trigger positive, retrospective assessment of escalation planning was conducted by reviewing whether there was a pre-existing KIS (Key Information Summary), ReSPECT form or consultant escalation plan on admission. These triggering patients were highlighted to the medical team in the patients notes as a prompt to consider a ReSPECT discussion with patients and families.

Since ReSPECT screening has started and ReSPECT documents have been completed for patients, there has been an increase in the number of documented emergency/ anticipatory care plans in the form of: KIS; admission escalation plans and ReSPECT forms. This reached a total of 100% of patients screening ‘positive for ReSPECT’ in the final week.

Scotland’s first pilot of the ReSPECT (Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment) process


S Campbell; LA Fielden; D Lynch; K Petrie


Across Scotland, there is no universal process for recording emergency treatment discussions besides DNACPR decisions which have been associated with negative connotations. The ReSPECT process creates personalised recommendations for a person’s clinical care in a future emergency when they are unable to make/express choices. Resuscitation decisions are considered as part of an overall treatment plan. The aim of the pilot was to evaluate ReSPECT by obtaining feedback from patient, carers and staff.


A small pilot of ReSPECT was introduced in 4 key areas (acute care of the elderly ward, adult mental health, day hospice, 2 GP practices) from November 2017 to May 2018. We obtained feedback from patients/carers who had been through the process; public carers forum; staff who had utilised the ReSPECT process.


180 people experienced the ReSPECT process. Patient/ carer feedback was overwhelmingly positive with the vast majority describing the process as ‘excellent’ and the remaining ’good’. All felt that ‘what matters to you’ was considered and they were involved in the decision-making process. Similarly, the carers forum described the process as excellent or good. 94% of staff felt that ReSPECT involves the patient and/or family in decision making. 88% felt ReSPECT would help the individual/ team deliver the most appropriate care for patients. This feedback will be utilised to shape the roll out of ReSPECT across NHS Forth Valley to facilitate truly person-centred care in emergency/ anticipatory care planning.

Sharing the Learning at the Palliative Care in Prisons Conference


Gail Allan


The Scottish prison population is disproportionately drawn from the most deprived areas in Scotland and have an increasing ageing population. The nature of offending and longer prison sentences means there is an increasing number of prisoners who will be facing end of life in prison. In September 2018 the first Palliative Care in Scotland's Prisons Conference took place.


The aims of the conference were to raise awareness about the need for a Supportive and Palliative Care approach in Prisons and share the current work that was taking place in Scotland's prisons.


Invited speakers addressed the issues of why prisons should develop a supportive and palliative care approach. Both NHS and Prison Service staff shared the work they were undertaking in their prisons to address these issues.

Workshops allowed the audience to engage with the staff that works in prisons. They were asked to share what they have done to support palliative care in prisons and who they should connect with to support this work.


Ÿ Increased stakeholder engagement with project

Ÿ Development of Macmillan Palliative care in Prisons Community of Practice

Supportive and Palliative Care in HMP Glenochil


Gail Allan; Fiona Donnelly; Fiona McAinsh


The fastest growing population in Scotland’s prisons is males over 50. The prison health demographics sees the health age of most prisoners as being at least a decade older than the general public, with a shorter life expectancy. A recent report, Who cares? The Lived Experience of Older Prisoners in Scotland’s Prisons by HM Inspectorate of Prisons Scotland highlighted the case of ageing prisoners. It also discussed the challenges for the staff working in prisons in caring for this group.


HMP Glenochil are taking a proactive approach in supporting the staff and people in their prison.


Ÿ Education

Ÿ Use of Early identification tools

Ÿ Improving multidisciplinary working

Ÿ Improving communication systems.


Ÿ Delivered Education sessions including Macmillan Foundations in Palliative Care Programme

Ÿ Development of Palliative Care Champions

Ÿ Development of Supportive and Palliative Care Meeting and Register

Ÿ Development of Gold Standard Folder for Prison use.

Poster Abstracts of the Month: August

The SPPC Annual Conference in 2018 featured 48 poster displays, sharing work and research underway across Scotland. Each month, this blog focuses on the content of a few of these posters. This month, we focus on six of these:

Managing Long Term Conditions in the Community: A Specialist Palliative Care Community Services Approach


Veronica Turnbull

An ageing population is increasing the demand for multi-morbidity care, including palliative care. However, disparities exist in access to palliative care for patients with long term conditions.(1) In Scotland the majority of palliative care is provided by generalist health and social care teams, with support from specialist palliative care professionals.(2) This work considers St Columba's Hospice Community Service developments that have improved access to specialist palliative care for people with long term conditions, and opportunities for next steps. Self-management, integrated working and education of generalist health and social care teams are presented considering challenges, opportunities and recommendations for practice.


(1) Marie Curie (2015). Triggers for palliative care improving access to care for people with diseases other than cancer. Retrieved from policy/policy-publications/june-2015/

(2) Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland (2018) Scottish Non-Malignant Palliative Care Forum (SNMPCF)

Retrieved from:

Multi-Disciplinary Palliative Care for Men Living with Duchenne: A Qualitative Interview Study


Dr Emma Carduff; Dr Sheonad Laidlaw


Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is an x-linked, ultra-rare neuromuscular condition affecting 1 in 3600-6000 live male births. Individuals live with an exceptional illness trajectory of prolonged dwindling, frailty and high symptom burden. A co-ordinated multidisciplinary team approach may increase the survival of those with DMD and improve their quality of life (QoL).


To investigate QoL in adults with DMD living in the West of Scotland (WoS). Methods: The SEIQoL-DW tool was used to assess the five most important elements that contribute to an individual’s QoL – these were then used to guide qualitative interviews with 6 men in the WoS. A thematic analysis was undertaken.


Men living with DMD in the WoS described living good lives but feel “forgotten” due to perceived gaps in their care: poorly co-ordinated and infrequent health care; lack of multi-disciplinary team input and holistic care; and poor or no access to allied health care professionals, for example physiotherapy and psychological support.


Numerous opportunities exist to introduce palliative care gently, as part of the MDT, early on and throughout the illness trajectory. Better co-ordinated multi-disciplinary care may be a solution allowing for an early introduction to palliative care and proactive advance care planning.

Palliative and End of Life Care: What do we know from Hospital, Hospice and Community data?


Aghimien Iyayi-Igbinovia; Andrew Mooney

The Information Services Division (ISD) presents a range of information to support the Scottish Governments Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of life care. Information presented in this poster covers hospital, inpatient hospice and community activities to report on palliative and end of life care. This includes the annual end of life publication, place of death and end of life care pathways.

Palliative care for prisoners: a partnership approach


Dr Rachel Kemp; Libby Milton; Barbara Stevenson (Marie Curie Hospice, Edinburgh)

Gerry Michie; Angela Wotherspoon (HMP Edinburgh)


HMP Edinburgh has one of the highest populations of older, long term prisoners in Scotland. There are specific challenges to ensure high quality palliative and end of life care for this group. Barriers include:

• Identification of prisoners with palliative care needs

• Lack of 24/7 health care

• Timely access to medication

• Prison environment and regime

• Staff confidence and competence

• Serious sex offenders unlikely to be eligible for compassionate release.


We have developed a partnership with our local prison, HMP Edinburgh, to transform the experience of palliative care for prisoners by:

1. Proactive identification of those with palliative care needs

2. Appropriate assessment and management plans

3. Planning to ensure palliative care needs can be safely and effectively met in the hospice or the prison

4. Support for staff

5. Addressing the barriers to out of hours health and social care support and access to medicines.


Initiatives focusing on the following three areas were developed:

• Clinical

• educational

• cultural shift.


• Hospice staff attend prison palliative care meeting

• Prisoners with complex needs referred to specialist service

• Plans in development to access out of hours nursing care and medication

• Commitment to ongoing development work

• Hospice staff supportive and confident to look after prisoners

• Partnership with prison viewed by charity as an opportunity not a threat.


Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care. Scottish Government, 2015

Older Prisoners: learning from PPO investigations. Prison and Probation Ombudsman, 2017

Health and social care needs assessments of the older prison population. Public Health England, 2017

Palliative Care Guidelines in Practice – Impact on Patient Care


Charis Miller / Alison Winning

In order to assess the impact of the guidelines on patient care, a survey was circulated to palliative care networks and published on the guidelines website. The survey asked five questions to establish which guidelines are most used, how they are used in practice and what alternative sources of information practitioners use.

The poster will showcase key results from the survey and examples of how the guidelines have been used in practice to improve patient care.


Perceptions of palliative care community nurse specialists (CNS) of the feasibility and acceptability of introducing routine screening of delirium in the community palliative care setting


Anne Finucane; Tabitha Kanyui; Libby Milton


Delirium is a frequently misdiagnosed syndrome and palliative care community CNS are the best placed healthcare professionals to assess and recognize it by conducting routine delirium screening in the patients they care for. The 4AT is a brief tool that can be used to screen for delirium in any setting, though has been little evidence to date on its use in hospice settings.


To explore CNS perceptions of the feasibility and acceptability of introducing routine screening of delirium in a community palliative care setting.


Semi-structured interviews with 12 community CNSs from a Scottish hospice.


Using the 4AT for routine screening of new patients referred to a community specialist palliative care team was feasible and acceptable to community nursing staff. Furthermore, staff perceived patients and families as mostly positive about its use. Overall CNS perceived it as useful in aiding early identification of delirium, though there was less consensus around when re-screening should occur.


Further consideration on triggers for re-screening community patients is required, given the fluctuating nature of delirium, and the potential distress it causes.

Poster Abstracts of the Month: June

The SPPC Annual Conference in 2018 featured 48 poster displays, sharing work and research underway across Scotland. Each month, this blog focuses on the content of a few of these posters. This month, we focus on six of these:

Inspiring Leadership leading self; leading with others in a palliative care setting


Claire O’Neill, Jane Miller, Susan Jackson, Fiona Wylie.


Pilot and evaluate a leadership programme for band 6 Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Specialist’s working within NHSGGC acute and hospices. The programme focussed on the leadership behaviours set out in the NHS Scotland Leadership Qualities Framework.


The programme aims included to build participants personal effectiveness, resilience and create a network of support, develop leadership behaviours consistent with an enabling culture and deliver a quality improvement project demonstrating impact on patient and families’ care experience. Participants attended master classes on:

• Myers Briggs and Working with Differences

• Quality Improvement Methodology

• Influencing skills

• Strategic landscape for Palliative Care.

They undertook 360 review with feedback sessions linking with PDPs, Action Learning Sets, shadowing opportunities and completed a work-based QI project.

The programme was evaluated using a combination of quantitative and qualitative data collection methods.


The evaluation data indicates that this was a very effective programme. The line manager / key person qualitative data supported the views of the participants by giving tangible examples of the impact of the programme at individual, patient, team and organisational levels.


The outstandingly positive evaluation of the programme supports the view there is a need for this programme to continue.

Investigating the need for palliative care among people who are homeless in Scotland


Joy Rafferty

A scoping exercise assessed the need for palliative care among people who are homeless in Scotland. Published homelessness data estimated the number of homeless people in Scotland. Literature review examined morbidity and mortality, challenges of providing palliative care to homeless people and their views on palliative care.
There were 34,100 homelessness applications in Scotland in 2016/17 though the true number of homeless people is likely double this. The literature shows complex palliative care needs with homeless people having significantly worse symptoms at end of life than other populations. Challenges to providing palliative care described in the literature include uncertain prognostication, complex trauma, chaotic lifestyles, service design and delivery and few available options. In published research homeless people expressed fears of dying anonymously, alone, on the streets and not being found and of being forgotten after death. Self-determination was vital, with concerns admission would cause a loss of freedom and control. Psychosocial care, staff availability, continuity and developing trusting relationships were essential. The importance of staff reaching out was expressed.
We need to consider how palliative care services can be more accessible and responsive to the needs of people who are homeless in Scotland.

Kilbryde Hospice to Kirriemuir Nursery: See how our garden grows!


Karen Kilpatrick; Melissa Woodhouse

Kilbryde Hospice Day Services, providing a rehabilitative model of care, was keen to introduce therapeutic horticulture to promote independence and promote wellbeing. Equally, a local nursery wished to establish a link to the hospice. A joint project to promote an intergenerational partnership was established in April 2018 to establish and maintain the external gardens in the new hospice grounds. Epstein & Boisvert (2006) reported the benefits of an intergenerational space that is shared whilst Kaplan, (1995) acknowledges the use of natural environments to be beneficial in promoting wellbeing. This project endorses Scottish Government Health& Social Care Standards (2017) to encourage hospice staff to provide activities that patients can participate in either indoors or outdoors.
To provide social and therapeutic horticulture to Kilbryde Hospice Day Services patients improving their wellbeing through active or passive gardening. Involving the nursery children allows a working relationship to develop, expanding their knowledge of plant life and develop their social skills within the hospice environment.
• Weekly visits by nursery children to hospice for 30 minutes
• No more than 8 children in a group at the one time
• Children accompanied by 2 or 3 staff members
• Kirriemuir staff fully responsible for the children on their visit
• Hi-visibility vests provided by nursery to be worn by children
• Children and patients to maintain 3 main garden areas; patio, front garden and rear garden.
• Therapeutic horticulture planned within Hospice Day Services 13-week programme
• Provision of one clinical support worker and 2 volunteers per session
• Patient choice to attend the session
• All levels of mobility catered for
• Fundraising Team at Kilbryde arranged for donation of plants and soil.
6 patients with regular horticulture participation
• IPOS scores decreased in feelings of anxiety and worry in 3 patients
• IPOS scores improved in feeling depressed in 3 patients
“I like going to help everyone at the hospice” HL
“I loved all the plants because some were coloured” JD
Kilbryde Patients:
“Kids make us laugh with what they say and do” AMH
“Both patients and children enjoy mixing. Long may it continue!” TH
Nursery Staff:
“Promotes the bond between adults and children working together” MW
“Children have developed a sense of responsibility” JA
Kilbryde Volunteers:
“Loved listening to kids asking patients about plants” ME
“Watching the children interested in the flowers and sharing tasks, they brightened up the patient’s day.” MI
• Improved outcomes on measuring feelings of anxiety, worry, depression
• Apparent improvement in social isolation
• Introduction of therapeutic horticulture has now been embedded into Day Services 13-week
• A planned seasonal project has extended to throughout the year with periodic adjustments
• Exclusively positive feedback from all 4 sources
• Nursery visits have increased to twice a week as a result.
Epstein,A.S. & Boisvert,C. (2006) Let's Do Something Together Journal of Intergenerational Relationships. 4 3 87-109
Kaplan S. (1995) The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 15(3):169-182.
Scottish Government (2017) Health & Social care Standards. My support, my life. Crown Copyright

Lessons learned from integration of IPOS into the Community: Building relationships and sharing learning and understanding between Specialist and Generalist Palliative Care Services


Neill Cree; Dr G Dunnet; Dr S McConnell; Dr J McKane; Janice Renfrew; Dr C Sime; Dr John Thompson; Dr Margaret Thompson

The aim of the project was to embed the use of the Integrated Palliative Outcome Scale (IPOS) within the Inverclyde Community Primary Care teams. IPOS is a validated and reliable tool used to identify unmet needs for people living with a life limiting illness. IPOS use within primary care is an innovative strategy. IPOS use in Specialist Palliative Care Services is well established.
We identified key barriers and challenges to collaborative inter-disciplinary working within Generalist and Specialist services. We acknowledged the different priorities in managing patients with life limiting illnesses and focused on innovative solutions to translate and integrate the use of IPOS into the Community.
We had to establish project momentum by supporting community staff. We developed case-based reflections, education and mentorship programmes to enable practices to embed IPOS development whilst supporting teams to develop clinical governance solutions to allow maximal impact of IPOS. We trained IPOS champions in the community to allow learning to be shared.
We identified key barriers and developed multifaceted solutions for the interaction and communication between Generalist and Specialist Palliative Care Services during integration of a new tool in an environment where Generalists have competing demands, specific to their specialty.

Lifetime in Pebbles


Shona Crain; Mairi-Ann Higgins; Ishbel Murdoch

The poster displays a creative project that tells the story of the growth of the Accord Hospice in Paisley where a large pebble mosaic has been hand painted by patients, families, volunteers, staff and local school children. The creation of the mosaic has involved the therapeutic benefits of art and is a reflection of the community the hospice is embedded in. It is installed in the gardens of the Accord Hospice.

Making a Difference – The Provision of Palliative and End of Life Care within a Community Hospital


Lynne Hoffin; Linda Kerr; James Mack; Dr Jillian Nicoll; Dr Kathleen Sherry; Morag Thomson; Karen Wilson

Patients in their last year of life use 30% of all acute hospital bed days. Evidence shows that over 50% of Scotland’s annual deaths take place in hospital. About 50% of NHS complaints relate to end of life care.

Community hospitals such as the Biggart Hospital play an important role in the provision of healthcare. They are at the forefront of shifting the balance of care from acute services into the community and they are ideally placed to develop a range of services focussing on the provision of palliative and end of life care.

MacMillan ward is a 23 bedded which specialises in palliative, end of life and Hospital Based Complex Continuing Care for patients with the need for frequent, sometimes not easily predictable, clinical interventions.

During a planned Leadership Walk round it was identified that there appeared to be issues with patients’ treatment being deemed unnecessarily escalated who were approaching the end of their life. Other factors identified during the transfer process were the lack of treatment plans, recognition or assessment of the palliative identity or needs of these individuals. These complexities and lack of recognition of palliative care needs were having an impact on establishing and implementing an individual’s wishes in regard to their plan of care.

This project focused on enhancing the experience for patients and their families with generalist palliative care, death, dying and bereavement needs, through the provision of specialist palliative care support/education for nursing and medical staff within MacMillan Ward.

Poster Abstracts of the Month: April

The SPPC Annual Conference in 2018 featured 48 poster displays, sharing work and research underway across Scotland. Each month, this blog focuses on the content of a few of these posters. This month, we focus on six of these:

Evaluating the Safer Prescription of Opioids Tool (SPOT) in clinical practice


S Botros; Dr D Buchanan; Sir A Cuschieri; Dr R Flint; J Forbes; Professor J George; Dr S Jamieson

Introduction and Aims:

The study evaluated The Safer Prescription of Opioids Tool (SPOT), an app-based equianalgesic opioid conversion tool as a clinician decision support (CDS) platform in opioid dose conversion using clinical data across primary, secondary and tertiary care in a palliative care setting at a Scottish Health Board.


This prospective clinical utility single-centre pilot study followed a mixed methods design. Prescribers were asked to complete an initial survey to explore their current opioid prescribing practice in palliative and end-of-life care. Thereafter, prescribers were asked to use SPOT for opioid dosage conversions in parallel to usual clinical practice. Lastly, prescribers were asked to evaluate SPOT through a survey and follow up focus group.


62% of conversions were for cancer pain and 72% for 24 hour-daily dose conversions. SPOT correctly matched the Gold Standard result in 258 of 268 (96.3%) calculations performed during the study period. Users had a statistically significant increase in confidence in prescribing opioids after using the tool.


The data from the study highlights the role of CDS when users prescribe high risk medicines. Almost all of those participating in the study would double-check their equianalgesic opioid conversion calculations if there was a simple, quick and safe option to do so, reflecting a pressing clinical need in a high-risk prescribing environment.

Foundations in Palliative Care: A Programme of Facilitated Learning for Care Home Staff and Home Carers


Ali Humphries; Suzanne Nimmo; Shannon Rendall; Karen Stewart

High quality palliative and end of life care delivery across Scotland should be the gold standard, but to achieve this there must be robust education and training in place to support all health and social care staff to achieve this goal.

The Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care (2015) highlights that everyone should have access to palliative and end of life care but acknowledges that there are challenges for staff to be released for training. Similarly, Macmillan Cancer Support in Scotland have also outlined in their priorities that people with palliative and end of life care requirements should have their experience improved, but to do this, we must develop and integrate the wider cancer workforce.

In order to improve the palliative and end of life care experience of people throughout Scotland, Macmillan Cancer Support commenced an educational programme in November 2017. The Macmillan Foundations in Palliative Care resource pack (FIPC) underpins the delivery of this training to Care Home and Care at Home staff.

To date we have provided 15 courses throughout Scotland and have trained 209 people.

This poster outlines the rationale for the above project and provides evidence of the preliminary qualitative and quantitative results.

Hospital Doctor's Experience of Caring for Dying Patients: Report of themes from free text responses


D Gray; G Haworth; H Hood; G Linklater; C Smyth

The aim of this study was to examine, by means of a postal questionnaire, the experience of all grades of doctors caring for patients dying in an acute hospital in Scotland. There was an overall 42% response rate (127/306). Of responding doctors 55% had cared for 10 or more patients in the previous year. A quarter of respondents had personal experience of bereavement out with clinical practice within the previous year. 65% of responding doctors agreed that their most memorable patient death had had a strong emotional impact upon them. Responding doctors reported benefit from peer support. There was no association between length of time as a doctor and difficulty rating for talking to patients about death (p-value 0.203). There was no association between difficulty rating and length of time working as a doctor when talking to relatives about death and dying (p value 0.205). The questionnaire enabled respondents to provide further information in relation to their own experience and the response have been grouped into themes and reported in this poster.

Impact of population ageing on end-of-life care in Scotland: Population based projections of place of death and recommendations for future service provision


Anna Bone; Catherine Evans; Anne Finucane; Barbara Gomes; Irene Higginson; Richard Meade; Scott Murray; Tim Warren


Due to global population ageing, we are expecting a rise in the number of deaths, with implications for service provision in care settings.


To project where people will die from 2017 to 2040 across all care settings in Scotland, and identify expert recommendations in response to projected trends.


Population-based trend analysis of place of death and a consensus group meeting.


Annual deaths in Scotland are projected to increase by 15.9% from 2016 to 2040. Between 2004 and 2016, proportions of home and care home deaths increased, while the proportion of hospital deaths declined. If current trends continue, the numbers of deaths at home and in care homes will increase and two-thirds of patients will die outside of hospital by 2040. To sustain current trends, recommendations included: 1) increase, equip and sustain the health and social care workforce 2) to build community capacity and resilience and 3) to hold a realistic national debate on funding of palliative care.


End-of-life care provision in community settings needs to increase by over 60% by 2040, otherwise hospital deaths will increase. Investing in a community-based health and social care workforce; and identifying and supporting informal carers are crucial.

Improving identification of people who could benefit from a palliative care approach


Paul Baughan; Michelle Church; Laura Dobie

The current situation is that many people across Scotland are not being identified and not receiving palliative care. There are lots of different tools that support earlier identification. So, one of the things that we have done in Healthcare Improvement Scotland is to try and make sense of which tool to use in which situation. We've produced the Palliative Care Identification tools comparator, which explains what tools are available, how they work and provides a decision tree that can help services decide what tool would best suit their aims.

Improving Palliative Care for People who are Homeless in Scotland - Possible Solutions


Joy Rafferty

There is need to consider how palliative care services can be more accessible and responsive to the needs of people who are homeless in Scotland. Review of published and grey literature, online searches and networking identified ongoing projects/services providing palliative care for homeless people in developed countries worldwide. These were examined, looking for examples of good practice and consideration made of transferability to the Scottish context. Eleven types of projects were identified aiming to improve palliative care for people who are homeless. One solution is unlikely to meet all the needs of this complex varied group with combinations of different services ideal. There is scope in Scotland to engage with specialist GP practices for people who are homeless and provision of support and education to staff working with this group. Consideration should be given to developing respite/intermediate care beds in culturally appropriate settings (e.g. homeless hostels), which can be utilised for those with palliative care needs. With many homeless people affected by profound and complex loss, specialist bereavement support can be helpful. Homeless people are unlikely to proactively access services so effective outreach involving relationship building and partnership working with other services is vital.

Poster Abstracts of the Month: March

The SPPC Annual Conference in 2018 featured 48 poster displays, sharing work and research underway across Scotland. Each month, this blog focuses on the content of a few of these posters. This month, we focus on six of these:

Building on the Best – Improving palliative and end of life care in acute hospitals in Scotland


Kirsty Boyd; Deans Buchanan; David Gray; Trisha Hatt; Mark Hazelwood; Barbara Kimbell

The Need for Action

At any point nearly 1 in 3 hospital beds in Scotland is occupied by someone who will die within 12 months. There is a need to refine processes and to support staff to deal with this large and often complex area of work. There is also a need to prepare and support people and their families to cope with the hospital experience.

What We Did

As part of a UK-wide programme funded by Macmillan a project manager was employed by SPPC. She worked with ward staff in 3 Scottish acute hospitals with the aim of scoping practice and supporting identification and testing of improvements. The project manager also sought input from people, relatives and public. The work was guided by local palliative medicine leads but led by staff of other specialities.


The commitment of general acute staff was strong, but the pressured environment meant work was slow. To varying extents wards identified and tested changes in process and/or practice. A suite of resources to prompt and support staff/individual conversations was developed and tested. Some ward processes were significantly changed in order to improve communication within the staff team.

Catastrophic Bleed Box - a practical resource within an acute setting?


Heather Tonner


Terminal haemorrhage (bleeding from a major blood vessel), although uncommon, causes significant distress for all involved when this catastrophic event occurs. The literature highlights the importance of good nursing care to lessen this distress. Harris et al (2011) suggest the management of terminal haemorrhage should focus on non-pharmacological, simple approaches.


In response to traumatic events associated with catastrophic bleeding in an acute medical ward a catastrophic bleed box was developed for use across a District General Hospital.


  • To facilitate discussion with ward teams regarding the care of patients at risk of terminal haemorrhage
  • Identify patients at risk
  • Enable sourcing of a catastrophic bleed box, including dark towels
  • Provide support for staff involved in this distressing situation.


Feedback from staff that have used this resource has been sought as means of evaluation. The feedback has been extremely positive. Staff like a tangible way of preparing for a catastrophic terminal bleed. Qualitative comments imply that staff feel more confident having dark towels to hand to camouflage the blood and concentrate on calmly supporting the patient and family.

Collaborative working between renal and palliative care: The impact of an integrated service on symptom burden, advanced care planning and place of death for patients with advanced chronic kidney disease managed without dialysis.


Sarah Cathcart; Claire A Douglas; Lorna Frame; Maureen Lafferty; Joanne Sloan; Louisa Stage; Miles Witham


For elderly patients with comorbidity and chronic kidney disease (CKD), dialysis results in significant time spent in hospital and may not offer improved survival, compared to those managed without dialysis.

Renal and Palliative Medicine professionals developed an integrated Renal Supportive Care (RSC) service for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) managed without dialysis. The focus is care of CKD, symptom management and Advanced Care Planning (ACP).

The impact on symptoms and care pathways was evaluated over a 30-month period. Data collected included RSC input, Palliative Care Outcome Score (POS), ACP information and mortality data.


Those patients with RSC input had improved symptom burden. They were more likely to have improved documentation and electronic communication of ACP conversations than those without RSC input. This included Preferred Place of Care (PPC) and DNA CPR information. At end of life, those patients who had PPC documentation were significantly more likely to die in the community. Those without, were more likely to die within an acute hospital.


The integrated Renal Supportive Care team achieved symptom management and Advanced Care Planning for many patients with CKD managed without dialysis and may help avoid acute hospital admissions at end of life.

Drug therapy for delirium in terminally ill adults: A Cochrane review


Bridget Candy; Anne Finucane; Louise Jones, Baptiste Leurent, Elizabeth Sampson; Paddy Stone; Adrian Tookman


Delirium is a complex neuropsychiatric syndrome common in palliative care, occurring in up to 88% of patients in the weeks or hours preceding death. Our Cochrane review on drug therapy for delirium in 2012 identified one trial (Candy et al. 2012). New trials have been conducted and an updated review is now recognised as a Cochrane priority.


To evaluate the evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) examining the effectiveness and safety of drug therapies to treat delirium in adults with a terminal illness.


We searched for RCTs comparing any drug treatment with any other treatment for delirium in terminally ill adults.


We retrieved 9,431 citations. Four studies were included in the final review. All trials were vulnerable to bias, most commonly due to small sample size or incomplete outcome data.


This review identified four trials. It found low quality evidence examining the impact of drug therapy on delirium symptoms and adverse events in terminally ill adults. Results for each comparison were based on single studies. Undertaking trials on delirium in this patient group is methodologically complex. Only one study compared drug therapy with placebo. This limited our ability to answer our review questions

End of Life Care is not Black and White


Rosemary Cairns; Jacqueline S Nicol; Laura Thomson

This poster illustrates the implementation of a Macmillan palliative care education resource in the acute setting. Originally developed for care home staff, this was adapted and tested in an acute setting within NHS Lothian.

The resource, Foundations in Palliative Care, comprises four modules: introduction to palliative care, communication, symptom management and bereavement. Education was delivered by the Education Lead for End of Life Care and a Senior Clinical Nurse Specialist, Hospital Palliative Care Team, four days delivered within two weeks. This was supported by Senior Management and Charge Nurses which enabled ten registrants to commit and attend all four modules.

Evaluation was extremely positive. Follow up visits from the course facilitators found participants had bridged the theory/ practice gap.

Enhanced Palliative Care for Generalists (EPCG)


Paul Baughan; Neil Pryde

Following feedback on the Scottish Palliative Care Guidelines, where there were comments that broader and more detailed guidance would be helpful, a proposal was taken to Macmillan to support the development of a training course for generalists.

The EPCG course will be an educational program based on the well-established model of a comprehensive, evidenced, manual underpinning a two-day interactive course.

We are preparing a pre-course manual, and an interactive 2-day course. This will include lectures, small group workshops, skill stations, and “real life” scenarios. There will be an assessment at the end.

The course will adhere to the principals of the NES framework for Palliative and End of Life Care and follow the general structure and the drug regimes of the Scottish Palliative Care Guidelines. The project has support from HIS, NES, and the SPPC.

A steering group has been established that will oversee the direction and co-ordination of the project. Class Professional Publishing will provide support and guidance throughout the project. Writing of the manual will be divided into seventeen sections. There will be a separate group to develop the interactive course. Finally, the materials will be peer reviewed, and the course piloted, prior to release.

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