Background Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, health and care systems were under immense pressure. The hospice made the decision to assist the local trust and admit palliative patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 into six pressure beds. Building on the partnership between the hospice and local trust, the beds were accessed by the trust through a new patient pathway of admission between October 2020 and March 2021.
Aim To achieve a timely, safe and appropriate transfer of COVID-19 criteria led patients from primary to hospice care.
Methods A new admission transfer criteria was introduced – patients with non-complex palliative care needs who were COVID-19 positive. A service level agreement was established to enable a consistent and collaborative approach. The ward sisters held daily morning meetings to discuss identified admissions. A designated wing was established to care for COVID-19 positive patients to prevent transmission.
Results A total of 40 admissions were taken since Nov. 2020. The transfer of acute patients to hospice care resulted in 369 saved bed days. Families were allowed precious time during the last days of life for 65% of patients in a calm and caring environment maintaining privacy and dignity for patients in their last days. Able to facilitate safe discharges home when patients recovered from the virus. Despite the implemented patient criteria, all patients transferred still required medical input due to their complex needs.
Conclusion Our findings demonstrate that working in partnership with the wider health and care system improves patient access to hospice care. Invaluable patient and family experience provides strong evidence for the continuation of the additional six beds. Admission criteria must be robust and flexible. We can restart the pathway if a third wave occurs and the hospice is further exploring how we can continue to support our local trust with the option of flexible winter pressure beds.
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