Many people will say that if they are unwell, they want to be involved in the decision making about the care they receive, that they want their wishes to be considered, and they want to stay true to themselves – this is person-centred care. Person-centred care is about ensuring the needs and wishes of each individual person are taken into account when it comes to their care and support when they are living with illness or dying.
Person-centred care is given across Scotland and in many hospices it is one of the founding principles. When Dame Cicely Saunders opened the first modern hospice in the UK, St Christopher’s Hospice, her ethos was to deliver care that helped people physically, emotionally and spiritually. Delivering care in this way, which supports the whole person, laid the foundations of the care that’s provided in many hospices today.
When St Columba’s Hospice opened in 1977, it was the result of years of hard work and was inspired by a visit to St Christopher’s Hospice. In Scotland, a new approach to palliative care was being offered, and almost 40 years later that innovative approach is still with us.
People who access the services of palliative care providers, such as St Columba’s Hospice, are actively involved in the decisions about their care and are able to call on the services of a range of specialists who can support their physical, spiritual, social and emotional needs.
The development of end of life care across Scotland continues, with many hospices developing specific person-centred care services. In autumn 2015, St Columba’s Hospice launched a five-year strategy in which we stated our ambitions for continuing to improve the vital services we provide. Our strategy will also impact on the wider world of health and social care through the development of our education and research activity – we will increase our work with health and social care practitioners from across all disciplines, to develop their understanding of palliative care; and our team will continue to lead research projects in collaboration with universities.
One year into our new strategy, we have made a number of changes – big and small – to our services and facilities, all helping to deliver person-centred care. Our community nursing team makes more than 3,000 visits per year to people who are living in the community and need our support.
Acknowledging that people need to access expert help every day, the team now offers a seven-day-a-week service. Being able to access the support from nurses every day is vitally important.
For people using the day hospice and inpatient unit, we have improved the services on offer. We now have a first class multi-disciplinary team of occupational therapists, physiotherapists, counsellors, chaplains and complementary therapists – all here to help ensure the very best person-centred care is delivered.
Following the rebuild of the Hospice, the interiors have undergone a makeover to ensure all the spaces are welcoming for everyone who uses the building. Design and decoration can make a huge difference when it comes to how a building feels, and it’s important to us that we foster a relaxing, peaceful and uplifting atmosphere. The entire Hospice has a home-from-home feel with modern furniture, soft furnishings and decor. These changes help people to feel more at home, more relaxed, and ultimately more themselves.
A further example of our focus on person-centred care is the addition of our new four-legged friends at the Hospice. People using the day hospice and the inpatient wards look forward to visits from Therapets – well trained dogs who are brought in by their owners on a voluntary basis. Research has shown that animals can have a calming effect on people, and the Therapets are a vital part of the multi-disciplinary team and their presence helps us to deliver person-centred care.
These developments in services, along with many others made over the last 12 months, enable everyone at St Columba’s Hospice to work with people and their families to ensure the care they receive meets their physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological and social needs. Over the next four years we will continue to develop our services and implement the remainder of our visionary five year strategy.
We can only provide this vital care through working with people, families, volunteers, staff and supporters. Without the support of the public we simply couldn’t continue to ensure that person-centred care is at the very heart of palliative care at St Columba’s Hospice.
Jackie Husband, chief executive of St Columba’s Hospice