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Found 78 results
  1. News Article
    The government is facing criticism over its guidance on safe visits to care homes in England. Labour and a number of charities have described the suggestions, including floor-to-ceiling screens, designated visitor pods and window visits, as impractical. Alzheimer's Society has said it "completely misses the point". Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the guidance was "non-exhaustive". The updated government advice, which came into effect on Thursday, says care homes - especially those which have not allowed visits since March - "will be encouraged and supported to provide safe visiting opportunities". Labour's shadow care minister Liz Kendall said many care homes would not be able to comply with the government's requirements which meant "in reality thousands of families are likely to be banned from visiting their loved ones". She said instead of suggesting measures such as screens, the government should "designate a single family member as a key worker - making them a priority for weekly testing and proper PPE". Kate Lee, chief executive at Alzheimer's Society, said: "We're devastated by today's new care home visitor guidance - it completely misses the point: this attempt to protect people will kill them." She said the pandemic had left people with dementia isolated and thousands had died. The guidelines "completely ignore the vital role of family carers in providing the care for their loved ones with dementia that no one else can", she added. She said the "prison-style screens" proposed by the government with people speaking through phones were "frankly ridiculous when you consider someone with advanced dementia can often be bed-bound and struggling to speak". That view was echoed by Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, who said she was "acutely aware" that the methods being sanctioned were "unlikely to be useable by many older people with dementia, or indeed sensory loss". Read full story Source: BBC News, 5 November 2020
  2. News Article
    A woman has been arrested after attempting to take her 97-year-old mother out of a care home for lockdown. Qualified nurse Ylenia Angeli, 73, wanted to care for her mother, who has dementia, at home. But when she told staff at the care home, they called the police who then briefly arrested Ms Angeli. The family have not been able to see their elderly relative for nine months, and decided to act ahead of the second national lockdown. Assistant Chief Constable Chris Noble, from Humberside Police, said: "These are incredibly difficult circumstances and we sympathise with all families who are in this position." "We responded to a report of an assault at the care home, who are legally responsible for the woman's care and were concerned for her wellbeing. We understand that this is an emotional and difficult situation for all those involved and will continue to provide whatever support we can to both parties." The incident came to light on the day the government announced new rules for families wishing to visit their loved ones in care homes. Under the guidance, issued hours before lockdown, families can meet relatives through a window or in a secure outdoor setting. Visits will need to be booked in advance, but the Department of Health and Social Care advice said care homes "will be encouraged and supported to provide safe visiting opportunities". All care home residents are allowed to receive visits from friends and family during the second national lockdown. Read full story Source: Sky News, 5 November 2020
  3. News Article
    A senior judge has said friends and family can legally visit their loved ones in care homes, in an apparent challenge to recent government policy that has in effect banned routine visits in areas of high COVID-19 infection. Mr Justice Hayden, vice-president of the court of protection which makes decisions for people who lack mental capacity, said courts are concerned about the impact on elderly people of lockdowns. He has circulated a memo that sets out his analysis that regulations do “permit contact with relatives” and friends and visits are “lawful”. He was responding to guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) last month telling thousands of care homes in England that visiting should be stopped in areas with tier 2 and tier 3 lock down restrictions, apart from in exceptional circumstances such as the end of life. It triggered blanket prohibitions by some councils and sparked anguish from relatives who warn a lack of contact is leading to misery and early death in some cases. Within a week, Gloucestershire county council told care homes in its area to stop visits until next spring. With the England-wide lockdown starting on Thursday, care home providers, families and groups including Age UK and Alzheimer’s Society, have called on ministers to this time make clearer provisions for visiting. Hayden said exceptions in the existing regulations mean contact with residents staying in care homes is lawful for close family members and friends. He said the court of protection was concerned about “the impact the present arrangements may have on elderly people living in care homes,” citing their suffering. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 2 November 2020
  4. News Article
    Hospitals have been ordered to allow partners and visitors onto maternity wards so pregnant women are not forced to give birth on their own. NHS England and NHS Improvement have written to all of the directors of nursing and heads of midwifery to ask them to urgently change the rules around visiting. The letter, which is dated 19 September and seen by The Independent, says NHS guidance was released on 8 September so partners and visitors can attend maternity units now “the peak of the first wave has passed”. “We thank you and are grateful the majority of services have quickly implemented this guidance and relaxed visiting restrictions,” it reads. “To those that are still working through the guidance, this must happen now so that partners are able to attend maternity units for appointments and births.” The letter adds: “Pregnancy can be a stressful time for women and their families, and all the more so during a pandemic, so it is vital that everything possible is done to support them through this time.” Make Birth Better, a campaign group which polled 458 pregnant women for a new study they shared exclusively, said mothers-to-be have been forced to give birth without partners and have had less access to pain relief in the wake of the public health crisis. Half of those polled were forced to alter their own childbirth plans as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak – while almost half of those who were dependant on support from a specialist mental health midwife said help had stopped. Read full story Source: The Independent, 23 September 2020
  5. News Article
    A hospital trust has been fined for failing to be open and transparent with the bereaved family of a 91-year-old woman in the first prosecution of its kind. Elsie Woodfield died at Derriford hospital in Plymouth after suffering a perforated oesophagus during an endoscopy. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) took University Hospitals Plymouth NHS trust to court under duty of candour regulations, accusing it of not being open with Woodfield’s family about her death and not apologising in a timely way. Judge Joanna Matson was told Woodfield’s daughter Anna Davidson eventually received a letter apologising over her mother’s death, which happened in December 2017, but she felt it lacked remorse. Davidson said she still had many unanswered questions and found it “impossible to grieve”. The judge said: “This offence is a very good example of why these regulatory offences are very important. Not only have [the family] had to come to terms with their tragic death, but their loss has been compounded by the trust’s lack of candour.” Speaking afterwards, Nigel Acheson, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said: “All care providers have a duty to be open and transparent with patients and their loved ones, particularly when something goes wrong, and this case sends a clear message that we will not hesitate to take action when that does not happen." Lenny Byrne, the trust’s chief nurse, issued a “wholehearted apology” to Woodfield’s family. “We pleaded guilty to failure to comply with the duty of candour and fully accept the court’s decision. We have made significant changes in our processes.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 23 September 2020
  6. News Article
    Sweeping bans on visiting at thousands of care homes risk residents dying prematurely this winter as they give up hope in the absence of loved ones, experts in elderly care have warned. More than 2,700 care homes in England are either already shut or will be told to do so imminently by local public health officials, according to a Guardian analysis of new government rules announced to protect the most vulnerable from COVID-19. Care groups are calling for the government to make limited visiting possible, including by designating selected family members as key workers. Since Friday any care homes in local authority areas named by Public Health England for wider anti-Covid interventions must immediately move to stop visiting, except in exceptional circumstances such as end of life. It also halts visits to windows and gardens and follows seven months of restrictions in many care homes that closed their doors to routine visits in March. The blanket bans will result in the “raw reality of residents going downhill fast, giving up hope and ultimately dying sooner than would otherwise be the case”, warned the charity Age UK and the National Care Forum (NCF), which represents charitable care providers. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 23 September 2020
  7. News Article
    Hundreds of people believe the helpline failed their relatives. Now they are demanding their voices be heard. Families whose relatives died from COVID-19 in the early period of the pandemic are calling for an inquiry into the NHS 111 service, arguing that many critically ill people were given inadequate advice and told to stay at home. The COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group says approximately a fifth of its 1,800 members – more than 350 people – believe the 111 service failed to recognise how seriously ill their relatives were and direct them to appropriate care. “We believe that in some cases it is likely these issues directly contributed to loved ones dying, due to causing a delay in receiving treatment, or a total lack of treatment leading to them passing away at home,” said the group’s co-founder Jo Goodman, whose father, Stuart Goodman, died on 2 April aged 72. Many families have said they had trouble even getting through to the 111 phone line, the designated first step, alongside 111 online, for people concerned they may have COVID-19. The service recorded a huge rise in calls to almost 3m in March, and official NHS figures show that 38.7% were abandoned after callers waited longer than 30 seconds for a response. Some families who did get through have said the call handlers worked through fixed scripts and asked for yes or no answers, which led to their relatives being told they were not in need of medical care. “Despite having very severe symptoms including skin discolouration, fainting, total lack of energy, inability to eat and breathlessness, as well as other family members explaining the level of distress they were in, this was not considered sufficient to be admitted to hospital or have an ambulance sent out,” Goodman said. Some families also say their relatives’ health risk factors, such as having diabetes, were not taken into account, and that not all the 111 questions were appropriate for black, Asian and minority ethnic people, including a question to check for breathlessness that asked if their lips had turned blue. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 21 September 2020
  8. News Article
    A dementia charity is seeking a judicial review of the government guidance on care home visits. John's Campaign says many care homes in England are still refusing regular face-to-face visits, often essential for people with severe dementia. Dr Angela McIntyre, a retired doctor backing the campaign, has not seen her 92-year-old mother since March. A Department of Health spokesman said: "We know limiting visits in care homes has been difficult for many families." He added: "Our first priority is to prevent infections in care homes, and this means that visiting policy should still be restricted with alternatives sought wherever possible. "Visiting policies should be tailored by the individual care home and take into account local risks in their area." But John's Campaign believes the guidance does not take into account how important visits from family members are for dementia patients and believes it could be in breach of the law. Read full story Source: BBC Health, 3 September 2020
  9. News Article
    Relatives of care home residents with dementia should be treated as key workers, leading charities say. In a letter to the health secretary, they write that the care given by family members is "essential" to residents' mental and physical health. They argue the current limits on visitors have had "damaging consequences" and they want visits to resume safely, with relatives given the same access to care homes and coronavirus testing as staff. Signed by the bosses of leading charities including Dementia UK and the Alzheimer's Society, the letter calls on the government to "urgently" address what it calls the "hidden catastrophe" happening in care homes. The charities say that this "enforced separation" has caused a "deterioration" in residents' mental and physical health, particularly for those living with dementia - who make up more than 70% of the population of care homes. Read full story Source: BBC News, 9 July 2020
  10. Content Article
    The outpatient appointment Attending an outpatient appointment, in my experience, is daunting at the best of times. First, there is the appointment date. Often you have had to wait an exceptionally long time for this appointment (providing the referral letter hasn’t been lost). The date and time are chosen by the Trust. There are some Trusts and specialities that will allow you to choose a time and place, but more often than not you are not able to choose and changing the date and time can prove tricky. There are many reasons for a patient not to turn up for an appointment. These reasons and how to mitigate them are looked at by Trusts. The 'Did not attend' (DNA) rate is looked at by Trusts. DNAs have an enormous impact on the healthcare system in terms of increasing both costs and waiting times. Trusts often want to reduce these to: reduce costs improve clinic or service efficiency enable more effective booking of slots reduce mismatch between demand and capacity increase productivity. Then there is getting there. Getting time off work or college, making childcare arrangements, getting transport… finding parking! Before patients even get to the appointment, they have often been up a while planning this trip. Imagine what this must be like for a patient with learning disabilities. This poses even more planning. What medication might we meed to take with us? Are there changing facilities for adults? Can we get access? Is there space to wait? Will anyone understand me? How long will we be there for? Do they have all my information? Services need to be designed with patients' needs at the forefront: the ability to change appointment dates, the location in where the appointment is held, parking facilities, length of appointment, type of appointment, is a virtual appointment or telephone appointment more appropriate? If you have a learning disability, you may have a family member or carer with you. If you have transitioned out of children’s services you will be seeing someone new, in a new environment. You may not have had the time to discuss the fine nuances to your care that is really important to you. You have now left the comfort bubble of paediatrics where you and your family had built up trust with the previous consultant and care team, and you are now having to build up new relationships. What is in place for you to feel comfortable? Has anyone asked what would help? The consultation Reasonable adjustments such as a double-length consultation is a great way of ensuring people with learning disabilities have enough time to process information and are given time to answer questions. Extra time is only one of many reasonable adjustments that can be made. An example... I would like to reflect on a recent time when I cared for a patient with autism and I didn’t have all the information to enable me to plan care for them at this particular time. This patient had spinal surgery and spent a very brief period on the intensive care unit. As part of my role as a critical care outreach nurse, I see patients who have been in the intensive care unit to check that they are doing well, that ongoing plans of care are in place and that they understand what has happened to them. I read that this patient had autism, but I had no other information. I was unaware of how the autism affected her, if she needed a carer, what she likes, dislikes, how to approach conversations or anything that was important to her. There is a health passport that can be used to aid exactly this information, this is filled out by the patient with their family or carer. Unfortunately, I could not locate the passport. I read the medical notes and went in armed with my usual questions and proforma that we use for all patients. Usual visits like this last from around 10 minutes (for a quick check) to an hour if they are a complex long stay. With the operation that this patient had, I was expecting to be with the patient for around 20 minutes. After introducing myself to the patient, it was clear that the proforma I was going to use wasn’t going to work. Tick boxes and quick fire questions were not the right way of going about this consultation. This patient was scared. More scared than a patient without autism. Their usual routine was gone, they were unable to ask as many questions as they normally would as the nurses and doctors were busy, their surroundings were different, the food was different, new medications, new faces everyday – there was no consistency. The ward round had just happened, the patient had a good plan in place and was due to go home the following day. Normally, this would mean that my visit would be a quick one as the clinical needs of the patient are less complex. This visit took me 90 minutes. Not only did I not have the care passport to hand, due to the coronavirus pandemic I had a face mask on. I felt completely ill-equipped for this consultation. I knew I was missing vital pieces of information which would help me communicate with this patent more effectively. So much of our communication is from facial expressions. A smile for reassurance makes a huge difference. I now have yet another barrier to overcome to communicate with my patient in a way that they can understand and feel comfortable. This particular patient asked many questions. This I had not factored into my day. I have a list of 12 patients to see, in between answering calls from staff on wards who have unwell patients for me to review. It’s too late to abandon the consultation or leave it for a less busy time. I’m at the patient’s bedside and I’m already committed to giving this patient my full attention. After we spent around 20 minutes discussing why I had to wear a mask, what the mask was made of, how many I had to wear in a day, why patients were not wearing masks, we then got onto the subject of food. Where the food is made, how does it get here, who heats it up? Then it came to the other patients in the bay. She knew all of them by name and proceeded to tell me the goings on that happened during the night. I’m clearly not going to get my proforma completed here. This is because my proforma is not important to my patient. "What matters to you?" During my Darzi Fellowship I had the opportunity to visit the Royal Free. Here I met an amazing physiotherapist called Karen Turner. She introduced me to asking the question ‘What matters to you?’ Simple – but so very effective and empowering for your patient to be asked this. The food, my mask and the people around her were of greatest importance to my patient at this time – not what she thought of her stay or if she wanted me to go through the intensive care unit steps booklet; these were important for me to know, these were questions that gave the Trust insight of what is important to them. It dawned on me that we had designed our follow-up service to suit us and not involved families or the patient. I feel a quality improvement project coming on! Reasonable adjustments take planning, as clinicians we need to know about them. We need to factor them into our work. The NHS has just enough capacity to run if all patients followed the NHS pathways, if all patients grasped everything and followed all instructions, took their medications on time, turned up for their appointments – there wouldn’t be a problem. It takes me back to the clip from the BBC programme ‘Yes Minister’ of the fully functioning hospital with no patients and that services run very well without patients! Currently systems within the NHS are designed around the building, the staff within it and the targets that are set out by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care. If we started designing care and access around patient need and ask them what would make it easier – what helps? what matters to you? – what would healthcare look like? During this time of uncertainty and change, I see exciting opportunities to take stock and see what’s working and what isn’t – and lets start involving patients at every stage. Call to action What are you doing to ensure reasonable adjustments are made for people with learning disabilities where you work? What more needs to be done to ensure that people with learning disabilities feel part of the conversation and play an active role in their care? Are you a patient, carer or relative? What has your experience been like? Have you any experiences in designing services with patients? Perhaps you are a patient and have been a part of the process. Add your comments below, start a conversation in the Community area or contact us. We'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
  11. News Article
    Once COVID-19 seeps into care homes, it is a monumentally difficult job to protect the residents, writes Sky's Alex Crawford. We will look back at this appalling, tragic episode in our global history, and our children and grandchildren will ask us: "Did that really happen? Did you really leave the most vulnerable of our society - the elderly, the infirm, the defenceless, the muddled, sick and weak - in care homes, shut away from their closest relatives? Did you leave them to be ravaged by a deadly virus, and do very little to help them?" Because that is what's happening right now. There are elderly people - many with Alzheimer's, many with dementia, many frail - in thousands of residential homes up and down Britain, and they are very much at risk. Read full story Source: Sky News, 11 Aril 2020
  12. Content Article

    #SharedHearts

    Claire Cox
    Imagine your loved one is in hospital. They are in intensive care, dying of coronavirus. They are scared and alone. You are not allowed to visit. You are not able to share the last moments with the person you have shared your life with. You are heart broken. Nurses caring for the dying are also heartbroken. We feel we have let you down, we feel helpless, we feel that this virus has already stolen so much from you. A phone call to say your loved one has died is not enough. It feels cold and unsympathetic. I was sent an idea by a colleague who saw a tweet by staff at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. They had an idea that hearts would be shared by patients and relatives. This was a fantastic idea. With that seed planted, I did a call out on my Facebook page for crafters in the community to make hearts. They could be knitted, quilted, sewn, crocheted or felted, just as long as they are about 6-7cm in size .At this point I hadn’t got permission to do this or even thought of the process. Too late… .the first bag of handmade hearts had arrived with in 12 hours of the initial call out! The process: Your patient is identified as dying and is given a handmade heart. If they are on the ward, a relative might be present. They will be able to choose a matching heart. The heart is placed with the dying patient and the relative keeps the matching one. Once the patient has passed away, a card with personalised message from the nurse is sent. If the patient sadly dies alone, a heart is placed with the patient and the matching one is sent, along with the card, to the next of kin. I needed to get others involved but every team in the hospital is busy. Would they even be interested? Our palliative care lead, Steve was the first person I spoke to. He was really keen and introduced me to the Patient experience manager, Jane. Together we came up with a design for the card and finalised the process. We then needed posters and a question and answer sheet for the wards. Emma, one of the critical outreach team is shielding, so we used her expertise in poster design and excel to organise the process sheets and a distribution list. With money donated to the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Charity we bought baskets to place the hearts in and paid for printing. The whole project came to life a matter of days. The red tape has seemed to have disappeared. Instead of endless meetings and blockers, quality improvement projects are coming to life quickly, its liberating! People from across Sussex have donated their time, materials and love in making these hearts. One lady in her 80s has said that she has felt helpless during this pandemic, but since hearing of this campaign, she feels that she now has a purpose and can support others. Deaths are not statistics, they are our mothers, father, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends. Every life matters. As a community we care. We would love to see all hospitals and care homes take on this initiative. For more information, please contact me: Claire@patientsafetylearning.org
  13. News Article
    Hospitals should allow parents to be with children who are being treated for the coronavirus, NHS England has confirmed, after a 13-year-old boy died without any family members beside him. Under its national guidance to hospitals, parents are considered essential visitors, but hospitals do have discretion to suspend visitors if it is “considered appropriate”. Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should not be allowed to visit a hospital. NHS England confirmed the position after 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab died at King’s College Hospital in south London in the early hours of Monday without any family members present. A statement by his family suggested he was alone because of the risk of infection. On its website the hospital repeated the guidance sent to trusts by NHS England that states children are allowed one parent or carer as a visitor, but declined to explain why his family were not with him. The end-of-life charity Marie Curie has also called on doctors to allow families to be with their loved ones, describing it as an “important part of their duty of care”. Read full story Source: The Independent, 2 April 2020
  14. News Article
    England’s most senior nurse has called on the NHS’ million-plus frontline workers to protect themselves and their patients this year by taking up their free flu jab. Ruth May, the Chief Nursing Officer for England, is spearheading this year’s drive to ensure that as many NHS staff as possible get vaccinated against seasonal flu – meaning they are both less likely to need time off over the busy winter period, and less likely to pass on the virus to vulnerable patients. Since September, hospitals and other healthcare settings across the country have been laying on special activities designed to highlight the importance of the flu vaccine, and celebrate those staff who choose to protect themselves and their patients. A record 70% of doctors, nurses, midwives and other NHS staff who have direct contact with patients took up the vaccine through their employer last year, with most local NHS employers achieving 75% or higher. Ruth has been joined in writing an open letter to NHS staff by other heads of professions like the NHS National Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer, Suzanne Rastrick, Chief Midwifery Officer, Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, and Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Dr Keith Ridge. In it they urge every member of the NHS’ growing frontline workforce to work together to achieve even higher level of coverage this year. Read full story Source: NHS England, 25 November 2019
  15. Content Article
    The aim of the study was to explore the incidence, use, and scope of patient diaries in paediatric intensive care units (PICUs) in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
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