Pioneering Midhurst service transforms end of life care
Adrian Brown with Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist, Jo Clark
Written by - Bert and Dot Brown from Midhurst, West Sussex.
"We lost our son Adrian just after Christmas, following a nine year battle with cancer.
He returned to England in 2001, having lived and worked in Canada for many
years. He was a builder by trade, but called himself a 'chippy with a chainsaw'
over there because all their houses are wooden.
Shortly after Adrian returned he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. He had
treatments and surgery over the years but about two years ago, the doctors found
that the cancer had spread, first to one lung and then to the other. Fortunately, it was a slow growing form of lung cancer, so he had another year and a half with his family. Adrian's son moved to England to live with his
dad and us six years ago. He's followed his dad into the building trade.
Adrian was always very active. He continued working until about a year ago
and he loved outdoor sports. He was a very keen motorcyclist – a member of
Bognor Motorcycle Trials Club – and enjoyed golf, too. When he could no longer
ride his bike he returned to a childhood hobby, fishing, and was still catching
some big carp until about six weeks before he died.
We heard about the Midhurst Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Service
from a friend of ours, who's a nurse. We asked our GP about it and they put us
in touch about 18 months ago.
The service is based at Midhurst Community Hospital and at first Adrian was
able to drive there for his daily checks. It was only in the last three months
that the drive became too much for him and the team started visiting at home.
Peter Hargreaves, who is the team's Palliative Medicine Consultant, was
second to none. He and the team always seemed to be able to find a solution to
any issue that cropped up.
Adrian had a pump fitted, which fed painkilling drugs directly into the base
of his spine. The nurses visited every day to change the dressing around the
pump insertion site and generally check on him. If anything cropped up, they
could administer the appropriate treatment, including injections or drips.
It was so much better than having to go into hospital or a hospice. He could
be with us, a part of the family, right to the end. When he took a final turn
for the worse, a nurse stayed with Adrian and us all day.
We are so grateful to the Midhurst Macmillan Service. Adrian loved them and
we would never have coped without them.
Everyone who knew Adrian knew how much the Service meant to him and we were
proud recently to hand over a donation, given by Adrian's many friends and
family, as our way of saying thank you for all the support he received."
Care for people with terminal illnesses has been transformed in parts of West Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey, thanks to a pioneering service based in Midhurst.
For further information about the Midhurst Macmillan Service, call 01730 811121.
Thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, the Midhurst Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Service helps people like Adrian Brown from West Sussex to be treated – and die - in the place they choose. This is most often at home, but could be a nursing home, residential home or community hospital, rather than a general hospital.
Thanks to the service, the number of terminally ill patients who were able to fulfil their wish to die at home rose from 36% in March 2006 to 76% in December 2009. The national average is just under 20%.
The service is available to patients within a 25-mile radius of Midhurst, covering parts of West Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey.
It is delivered by a multi-disciplinary team of almost 100 staff and volunteers, led by Peter Hargreaves, Macmillan Consultant in Palliative Medicine.
Peter said - Over the last three years, we have changed the face of palliative care locally - from a typical hospital inpatient unit to a 'virtual' hospice caring for patients in community settings. During that period we have helped hundreds of patients and their families.
Patients can be referred to us with any life-limiting disease, not just cancer, and at any stage of their illness. We offer a spectrum of care, from active intervention in the early stages after diagnosis through to end-of-life care. Our service includes non-medical assistance such as counselling, complementary therapy and even advice on benefits.
In addition to enabling more patients to be cared for and die in their preferred location, we have delivered cost savings to the local NHS of around £600,000 per year. This is achieved by reducing the number of admissions to hospital for palliative care procedures. The key to our success is the role played by a patient and carer group whose members' experiences of palliative care enabled us to develop a totally new model of care that really works for patients and carers.
The Midhurst Macmillan Service has received national recognition, achieving a place in the final of the NHS Live award category of the prestigious Health and Social Care Awards 2009.The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement makes this award to submissions that have real potential to be adopted elsewhere in the NHS.
Text content last updated Feb 2010