THE Welsh Ambulance Service has launched a new e-learning course to help colleagues further understand how to care for terminally ill patients at the end of their life.
The aim of End of Life Care is to provide sensitive and quality care for all dying patients in all care settings including the hospice, home, hospital and care home, enabling more people to have a choice of care at the end of their life.
The new e-learning course, created jointly by the Trust and palliative medicine consultants Dr Nikki Pease and Dr Jo Hayes, with funding from Palliative Care Wales, has been designed to give colleagues further knowledge, support and confidence to treat terminally ill patients.
Professor of palliative medicine, Baroness Ilora Finlay, said: “Ambulance staff are often the first on the scene when a crisis occurs in someone who is terminally ill or dying.
“Until recently, many felt poorly prepared and supported to take the difficult decisions that need to be taken instantly, such as whether to provide care and support at home and arrange for follow-up, or whether to transport the dying person to hospital.
“I am delighted this important programme has been developed to ensure that staff are better trained and feel more confident to do what is right for the individual patient at that time.
“This e-learning programme builds on the skills of ambulance staff and will result in better care for patients and their families at a very vulnerable time.”
The work has been led on the Welsh Ambulance Service side by the Trust’s End of Life Care Lead Ed O’Brian.
Ed said: “Ambulance services are increasingly playing a more significant role in End of Life Care.
“When a crisis occurs, an ambulance is often called by the palliative care patient’s carer or relative.
“For frontline ambulance staff these calls can be challenging and difficult, but the new e-learning module has been designed to give them the training and confidence to deal with the situation as best they can.”
Steve Ham, Chief Executive of the Velindre NHS Trust and the Chair of Wales’ End of Life Care Implementation Board, added: “I’m delighted to see the launch of this important initiative as part of the delivery of one of the key priorities from the End of Life Board.”
The e-learning is aimed at both Emergency Medical Service and Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service colleagues, who are those most often called upon to transport patients at the end of their life.
In 2016, the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service launched a dedicated transport service to take terminally ill patients to their preferred place of death in the most caring and comfortable way possible.
The e-learning will complement the mandatory training in End of Life Care training already delivered to all frontline ambulance staff in Wales and the ongoing training sessions being delivered in End of Life Care communication skills.