THREE wards at Russells Hall Hospital have achieved the highest national standard for end of life care.

The coronary care unit and wards C3 and C8, which look after elderly and stroke patients, all received Gold Standards Framework after two years of hard work from staff across the wards.

The programme works in association with Hospice UK and aims to enable a ‘gold standard’ of care to help people live well before they die, and to die well in the place and the manner of their choosing.

In a further mark of success, the coronary care unit is the first in the country to achieve Gold Standards Framework accreditation.

Dr Jo Bowen, palliative medicine consultant with The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for the wards and staff and one that has demonstrated improvements regarding end of life care for patients.

“The main achievements are earlier recognition of patients in the last year of life which has then impacted on the development of an individual plan of care, reduced length of stay and improved communication from the Trust to community teams.

“The engagement and ownership demonstrated by the ward teams is outstanding and the initiatives taken by the ward to ensure an individual plan of care is achieved. Pre-COVID this has included weddings, visits from pets, birthday celebrations and this is now part of the culture in the Trust to support end of life care.

“March and April have been unprecedented times with COVID-19 yet the Gold Standards Framework has continued to be embedded across the hospital.”

The cardiology and stroke works achieved the accreditation thanks to the hard work of teams across the wards.

Cardiology consultant Dr Robert Huggett said: “The increasing number of advanced heart failure patients and unpredictable nature of the disease has historically made palliative care difficult in cardiology. The GSF accreditation process has shown that cardiology can be trained effectively in end of life care."

Stroke co-ordinator Donna Salt said: “The entire team have been so dedicated to GSF. It has been successful on our ward because the whole team are passionate about this and have all worked together to improve the care we provide our patients at the end of their life.”

Matron Rachael Collins added: “We are really proud of the teamwork shown on C3 and the Forget-Me-Not (dementia) unit in achieving the GSF accreditation. As a team we passionately advocate for good end of life and palliative care and we are very aware we only get one chance to get it right.”

Lead nurse for the Gold Standards Framework, Julie Armstrong said: “The accreditation process recognises the hard work and dedication of the whole team. The award has been achieved through their tenacity and commitment to improve end of life care.

“It has been a pleasure to work with the teams and see the change in culture and practice with improvement in individualised care planning, reduction in length of stay and good communication between the hospital and community teams. We look forward to visiting other areas within the Trust as they continue to embed GSF in practice.”