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P-67 Community palliative care response to support care home residents and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic
  1. Joy Ross and
  2. Helen King
  1. St Christopher’s Hospice, London, UK


Aim To review our response to support residents and staff in Bromley Care Homes during the COVID-19 pandemic (April 2020–March 2021), reflect on our learning, joint working with colleagues and identify good practice to inform future models of care.

Methods We collated clinical activity data and key case reviews of care home patients referred to our service over the year. Contemporaneous notes from formal/informal reflections and debriefs (internal and joint with GPs/CCG/other professionals) were reviewed. Themes from feedback of care home staff and managers (ad hoc and formal focus groups) were included with personal reflections.

Results 345 patients were referred from 32 care homes. The majority (45%) in Quarter 1 (first wave), 14% in both Q2/Q3 and 27% in Q4 (second wave). Median age 89(53-110) with 69% >85 years; two-thirds female. 80% had a non-malignant primary diagnosis. Just over half died within the year; median time referral-to-death 17(0-229) days, 81(23%) remained on the caseload April 2021.

Key themes in Q1 included: limited effectiveness of virtual assessments, atypical patient presentations, significant impact of social isolation on mental health/function, with families unable to advocate and inconsistent messaging about visiting rights. Care home staff were distressed, burnt out, feeling unsupported. In Q2/Q3 regular GSF meetings with care home-GPs, virtual teaching (webinars/ECHO) and staff ‘cascade project’ study days helped consolidate learning. The second wave was heralded by an outbreak in extra-care housing; care home-GPs were self-isolating. We led urgent senior clinical review and response.

In Q4, daily COVID-19 monitoring meetings were key (representation from CCG, Public Health, Pharmacy, CH-GPs and St Christopher’s). Over a month, successive outbreaks were identified and resources coordinated to ensure clear advance care plans, timely review, targeted multiprofessional support to care home staff. Learning from each setting informed changes to approach in the next, including: understanding culture, correcting/enhancing infection control procedures, improved shared decision making and addressing hydration.

Conclusion Senior clinical leadership, cross-boundary flexible working and willingness to learn together were vital.

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