Background The notion of a ‘hospice ambulance’ to transport patients has been thought about at various times when the demands on existing ambulance services results in delays for patients coming to, or from, the hospice. An opportunity arose and an ambulance was provided to the hospice.
Aim(s) To ensure we meet the needs of everyone who needs our care, and to support people to die in their preferred place of care in line with our strategic aims.
Method Staff attended a 5-day ambulance driver training programme provided by the local ambulance service. A small ambulance driving team was created. A policy and procedure was developed for use of the ambulance and CQC processes followed to register the new activity.
Results The addition of the hospice ambulance has meant patients have been supported to die in their place of choice. For example, a hospice patient asked to return home to die. A request for transportation was refused by the local ambulance service due to difficulty in transporting and accessing the patient’s home. Staff carried out a simulated test run, taking the hospice ambulance to the patient’s home to plan and ensure a safe discharge home. The ambulance was prepared and the patient was transported home and their end-of-life wish fulfilled. Another patient wished to die at the hospice, but again was not viewed as a priority by the local ambulance service who stated they would be unable to provide transport for several hours. The hospice ambulance was utilised to bring the patient to the hospice. The patient arrived in time to die alongside family.
Conclusion Staff have demonstrated exceptional teamwork and innovation to ensure patients’ wishes are met. The hospice ambulance has enabled more people to die in their preferred place, reducing stress and anguish for patients and their families.
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