GPs, consultants, district nurses, palliative care clinical nurse specialist's and relatives, identified the need for access to a suitably trained carer/Healthcare Assistant (HCA) to be available at short notice for patients at the end of life who's current care arrangements become untenable. It was felt that this would enable patients to remain at home if appropriate, and also facilitate rapid discharge from the acute trust. The pilot of the new RACE (Rapid Access to Trained Carers at End of Life) service was launched December 2010. The service is currently provided by the three hospices in the county. It provides a single number for professionals to phone to arrange care at short notice. Two carers are available each night. In its first 6 months the service provided care to 60 patients and prevented at least 20 admissions. Feedback from service users has been overwhelmingly positive for example: ‘What a brilliant service. I was at my wits end from lack of sleep, my husband who has cancer was cared for faultlessly. I have nothing but praise for this service – please continue’ Wife of patient in Bewdley. There are opportunities to improve the cost effectiveness of this service, and access to appropriate carers at the end of life, through the development of a county wide single point of access for health 24/7. RACE itself has been recognised as good practice nationally, and as a consequence the RACE team have been invited to present a paper at the Help the Hospices National Conference at the end of September 2011.
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