Pilot aim To explore how housing support workers (HSW) could support patients and carers as part of the hospice's Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) team. CNS capacity was being reduced by undertaking important albeit non-clinical activities. Additionally the service received ineligible referrals that were nonetheless judged to be at risk of crisis where an assessment could be beneficial. The housing sector partner seconded a HSW into the hospice's 'First Contact' triage team.
HSWs have valuable experience in supporting vulnerable clients and have knowledge of statutory and voluntary sector services, the hospice provided training on awareness of end of life care. The HSW makes contact with the patient and arranges a home visit to undertake a holistic assessment. The HSW supports the patient and their carers to access support including equipment, home adaptations, social care, benefit entitlements, in addition to liaising with healthcare professionals to organise GP reviews or District Nursing support where required.
Other key areas of learning: HSW support is acceptable to patients when they are not ready to accept hospice support; anecdotal evidence suggests that some patients avoid all services whilst living in pain and/or on the edge of crisis.
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