A rapid response service delivered to families in the South Health Trust area by Marie Curie nurses is to be extended for the next year after a major cash injection.
Health Minister Simon Hamilton has pledged £285,000 to ensure the continuation of the rapid response service (RSS) which provides end of life care, at short notice, to patients in their own homes.
“Most people who are receiving end of life care wish to remain at home wherever possible,” explained the Minister.
“Through this important service, patients’ needs can be met by rapid, short-term intervention at the end stages of their illness to help avoid emergency hospital admission. In fact, a review of the service shows that 28% of visits by the RRS prevented an admission to hospital or an ambulance call out.
“Marie Curie Nurses perform a range of activities at patient visits, including the administration of medication, providing emotional support, caring for the personal care needs of the patient, management of the patient’s symptoms and catheter related activity.
“In the first year of the extended service, over 2,000 visits and calls were made to over 800 patients and carers and 88% of visits took place within two hours of the initial request being made.
“This highlights the importance of the RRS and that is why I am delighted to allocate £285,000 to ensure this service can continue to provide such essential care and help more patients and carers.”
Delivered by Marie Curie palliative care nurses, working in partnership with the local GP out of hours, the service provides prompt and timely response to calls for care and assistance, telephone advice to families and patients who may not need a home visit, and urgent at home care to patients.
The service is co-funded by Marie Curie and the Health and Social Care Board.
The extended RSS operates on an out of hours basis, seven days a week, providing cover during evenings and at weekends and bank holidays between the hours of 8am and 10pm in the Southern and Northern Trust areas, and in the northern sector of the Western Trust.
Paula Heneghan, Regional Manager, Marie Curie Nursing Service, said: “The Minister’s announcement of new funding is fantastic news for the rapid response service and for everyone involved in its delivery but, more importantly, this is great news for those people, and their families living with a terminal illness that require an out of hours service.
“We know from research that patients with a terminal illness prefer to be treated away from hospital and, where possible, in their own homes.
“The Marie Curie rapid response service allows us to meet this need head-on, ensuring patients receive care where they want it and when they need it.”
The RSS has been operating in the Northern and Southern Trusts since 2008/9. In 2015, the RRS in both areas was extended to include 8am to 10pm at weekends and bank holidays, as part of a pilot for a period of 12 months.
The extended RRS model – nights across the week, weekends and bank holiday service – was also introduced in the northern sector of the Western Trust.
This cash announcement by the Minister will ensure it continues for the coming financial year at least.