Hospice nurses plug the care gap for those dying at home

Lynn Grout, Rennie Grove's senior hospice at home nurse
Lynn Grout, Rennie Grove's senior hospice at home nurse

Rennie Grove Hospice Care is supporting a campaign highlighting the gap in specialist care available to terminally-ill patients dying at home.

The campaign and petition – Dying Doesn’t Work 9 to 5 – has been launched by hospice charity Sue Ryder and draws attention to the fact that only 8% of clinical commissioning groups in England provide 24-hour expert nursing care, leaving families facing tough nights on their own across the country.

Rennie Grove has been a pioneer of hospice care at home for more than 30 years and its 24/7 responsive care allows 100% of its child patients and 94% of its adult patients to die at home if they wish, which is a stark contrast to the national figure of just 25%.

The charitable sector does go some way towards plugging this gap with organisations like Rennie Grove Hospice Care leading the way.

Rennie Grove’s director of nursing and clinical services Sue Varvel said: “We know from working with those who are at the end of life and their carers that the most distressing times for everyone are those weekend or night-time hours when most of the usual support networks are not available.

“We have always offered 24 hour support – initially our nurses worked an on-call system and now our most advanced model of care sees nurses working a dedicated night shift and visiting patients in need, managing changes in their symptoms and offering support to carers.

“We firmly believe that every patient should have the right to choose where they die and the vast majority decide that they would prefer to be at home surrounded by their friends, family, pets and familiar things.

2Everything that we do aims to give patients these choices, but giving them the support they need along the way is what really makes it possible.

“Carers have told us that to make a call at 3am is daunting but knowing that our nurses are there and ready to respond makes it easier to call for help when the need is there rather than waiting until daytime hours when often symptoms have got out of control.

“Offering this level of support 24 hours a day is such an important part of what we do and I am sure that if more people across the country had access to similar support, then more people would be able to have realistic choices about where they die.

“As the campaign points out, we have really good round the clock maternity services in the UK ensuring a smooth path at the start of life, now we need to have equality for end-of-life care.”

To sign the Sue Ryder petition, visit the website here.