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Third phase of palliative care project now live


The third phase of a project designed to improve palliative care in Oxfordshire and South Northamptonshire is now live.

Hospice Outreach is part of a wider project, launched in 2022, with the aim of supporting people at the very end of their life whose choice is to die at home rather than in hospital:

New palliative care project to improve end of life care for patients

The project is a unique partnership between Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), Sobell House Hospice Charity, Macmillan Cancer Support and Social Finance.

Hospice Outreach offers a specialised pathway for patients who have been identified by existing services who would further benefit from specialist palliative care support.

The service operates as a virtual ward, allowing patients to get the care they need at home safely and conveniently, rather than being in hospital. Specialist palliative care is then provided virtually or in person, depending on what is best for the patient.

Hospice Outreach expands the original RIPEL project, and will allow more people personalised care at the end of their life, including in their own homes if that is their choice.

Dr Victoria Bradley, Clinical Lead for Palliative Medicine at OUH, said: "The initial phases of this project have been a huge success, and I'm really pleased that we get to put new, additional phases in place to best support our patients who are at the end of their life.

"One of the main drivers of this overall project is to give people control and agency over their palliative care - Hospice Outreach is a continuation of this and supports our aims of delivering care closer to home with the right support in place.

"We can support with discharge from hospital to people's homes if that is their wish, and by reducing people's time in hospital and caring for them at home, we can offer the right support in their chosen surroundings."

Amelia Foster, Chief Executive at Sobell House Hospice Charity, said: "We are thrilled that Hospice Outreach is now live, helping us to achieve our vision of making excellent palliative and end of life care available to everybody in our community who needs it.

"Being able to offer a virtual ward to those in a palliative crisis or at the end of their lives helping them to remain at home means more people can access our care in the way that they wish.

"Sobell House Hospice Charity is proud to have donated £3.1 million to the RIPEL project, and are grateful to our community of supporters for making that happen."

Linsey Lambeth, Macmillan End of Life Care Fund Lead at Social Finance, said: "What really matters about the launch of Hospice Outreach is that more people approaching the end of their lives across Oxfordshire and south Northamptonshire will get the right care, in the right place, and at the right time.

"This specialist palliative care allows patients to get the care they need at home safely and conveniently. That's why Macmillan Cancer Support has invested £6.1m in this project through its partnership with Social Finance, with the aim of improving end of life care across the UK."

The impact of the project

Since the launch of the wider project in 2022, which aimed to provide end of life care closer to home, there have been several milestones to demonstrate its success.

In 2023, the Home Hospice branch of the project received 603 referrals. The Hospital Rapid Response branch received 138. Each referral enables a patient to spend more time at home, when that is their choice, at the end of their life

OUH's Palliative Care Hub receives more than 1000 calls a month. The project teams are able to support staff with access to the right professionals in a more timely manner, supporting patients, families, and healthcare professionals throughout Oxfordshire and South Northamptonshire.

The project was a finalist in the 2023 HSJ Patient Safety Awards.

Patient and family feedback has been extremely positive, with one family member saying about their relative's experience: "Their death had been perfect, and all they had hoped for."