I joined Sobell House in 2012 as the Deputy Matron and Operational Service Manager for Palliative Services. I work closely with the clinical lead for Palliative Services to ensure the Hospice delivers care of good quality to patients, that all the services run smoothly and are fit for purpose.
Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.
We are a specialist service and are involved with patients who have complex symptoms that need expertise. We work very closely with local GP’s, district nurses and nursing homes that look after many patients recognised to be dying. Each GP practice in Oxfordshire has a community specialist nurse linked to them. The majority are Sobell specialist nurses. Katharine House supports practices in the north of the county and Sue Ryder in the South East. Many people would prefer to be at home when dying – the hospices aim to support this wish through collaborative work.
Sobell ward has 18 beds. 50% of patients admitted to the hospice will be discharged when well enough though 50% of patients will remain for end of life care. Once we have addressed the issues which led to the need for admission staff have conversations about how to support care from this point onward whether that is at home with extra support or in a nursing home. Our social workers are excellent at liaising with patients and their families to support their preference and provide the best solution possible. Sobell House Hospice Charity plan to build an extension to the ward to help update the facilities and improve care. The new space will have room for 6 beds that are close together and easy to observe. This will improve the care of patients with delirium, dementia and frailty enabling close monitoring of patients whilst maintaining their dignity. We will also have the opportunity to add extra space for families to stay over and be close to their relatives.
There are many patients throughout the hospital Trust who have complex symptoms even if still having treatments. Many patients are dying within the trust. The hospice has a team of specialist nurses and doctors who work with the patients and the medical and nursing teams in charge of the patient’s care. Sobell House Hospice Charity are supporting a project to increase resource to this team with the aim of seeing more patients and families, educating staff throughout the hospital and increasing staff confidence and competence in caring for patients who are dying.
These are just some of the services provided by the Hospice; others include day service, specialist social work, chaplaincy, art and music therapy, specialist occupational and physiotherapists, lymphedema specialists and a bereavement team. Staff and patients are supported by a host of volunteers to deliver care and support. Our services are available across the county and not just for patients in hospital. If the situation stabilises, the specialist services may step back, however support is still available should things change.
Dying can be a distressing time for patients and their families. Our aim is that wherever a patient is being cared for when they are dying that they and their family receive care of good quality provided by staff that are confident and competent in providing this care and that families feel that they are involved and supported. The Trust is committed to this aim throughout our hospitals. Sobell House Hospice Charity provides significant funding annually to support this aim.
The provision of excellent end of life care in an organisation as large as the OUH, an evolving NHS and in a diverse community is an ever changing and challenging task. What remains a constant is our commitment to patients and their families and carers. This remains central to our philosophy and important to everyone in the Hospice. The Hospice is trusted to deliver care of good quality and receives positive feedback from patients, families and staff. We try to continually learn from feedback and improve the quality of care we deliver.
This journey at the end of a person’s life is central to everything that we do, central to what I do - it is what brings me to work every day, striving to provide the best experience possible, sometimes in difficult and challenging situations. The future sometimes looks uncertain however what remains constant is the staff’s commitment to their patients, the OUH’s desire to deliver compassionate excellence throughout the Trust and the charitiy’s support to improve end of life care for the people of Oxfordshire.
Deputy Matron & Operational Services Manager