Background This project was undertaken at an independent hospice in the West of Scotland, serving a population of over 76,000 (National Records of Scotland, 2022). Feedback from colleagues in primary care highlighted the need for a dedicated advice line to improve access to specialist palliative care (SPC) and to facilitate timely referrals to our service.
Aims To develop a dedicated SPC advice line for healthcare professionals (HCPs) in primary and secondary care. To evaluate the effectiveness of the advice line in improving access to specialist palliative care.
Method Development. Process mapping was undertaken to understand steps between receiving a call and feedback to the patient’s parent team. Decision was made that referrals for inpatient hospice care could be made via the advice line. Virtual landline platform was used. Advice/referral proforma was created on our patient record system (Crosscare). Specialty Doctor, Clinical Fellow or Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) staffed the advice line with a Consultant available if required. The advice line was made available 0900 – 1700, Monday to Friday. Posters and cards with dedicated advice line number were shared with primary and secondary care colleagues.
Evaluation. Data from virtual landline platform and Crosscare analysed for total number of calls and referrals generated, referral sources, patient demographics and outcomes.
Results Feedback from users has been positive.
Feb – April 2023:
72 contacts relating to 49 patients, 31 of which were new referrals.
38.8% of contacts from primary care (General Practitioners, ANPs and District Nurses).
9.7% of contacts received from professional carers in the community and care homes, who were not previously able to refer directly to hospice.
16.7% of contacts resulted in hospice admission, 36.1% in SPC clinician review, 45.8% in advice only.
Conclusion This specialist palliative care advice line has improved access to specialist palliative care advice and streamlined our referral process. Future directions: extension of advice line beyond 0900–1700 Monday to Friday and quality improvement around widening access to specialist palliative care.
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