Saint Francis Hospice‘s Medical Director, Dr Corinna Midgley, has a wealth of experience in hospital palliative care.
Corinna’s work with the Hospice started 19 years ago. She’s now in her 13th year as the Hospice’s Medical Director. During that time, Corinna has built special relationships with palliative care teams in local hospitals. She’s particularly proud of the Hospice’s work with Queen’s and King George’s Hospitals, where she is regularly on call.
Corinna knows exactly what knowledge and support hospital ward staff need to achieve the best comfort for patients, a safe discharge for home-based palliative care, and expert end of life care at home.
Corinna is concerned that a lack of funding for educating health and social professionals is hampering Saint Francis Hospice’s partnerships with care providers. It is estimated that 85% of the Hospice’s care is now in people’s homes or supporting residents in nursing homes. Corinna realises that supportive, confident and proactive GPs and District Nurses can make such a difference.
‘It takes time for GPs and District Nurses to gain experience with people who are living with an advanced illness and want their care at home,’ Corinna revealed. ‘Ongoing programmes of training and support are so important.’
Newer partners include home care agencies. Agency staff are needed to support people at home and in nursing homes, where they will be caring for the most vulnerable in our community. Paramedics are also becoming increasingly important providers of crisis care at home.
Other potential partners include Marie Curie and Age UK. There are also collaborations Saint Francis Hospice can form with private care providers and allied health professionals, including physiotherapists, social workers, occupational therapists, counsellors, and pastoral care leads.
‘Education and training require engagement and do cost,” Corinna admitted. “As all of our resources are stretched, the better-informed everyone is, and the more we know about what each other could contribute, the better care we can provide for patients and their families.’
Corinna revealed that health professionals who are better trained and knowledgeable about the Hospice’s services make more precise, effective and timely referrals.
She’s also discovered that one of the biggest obstacles to timely care is the avoidance of questions from people who are ill. People often don’t have the confidence or knowledge to answer. They also avoid asking people how they are, what they are worried about, and what matters to them in life and death.
‘Sensitive and effective communication is crucial to good care,’ Corinna said. ‘It requires education, training, and support.’Corinna’s ambition is for Saint Francis Hospice to work confidently, honestly and consistently with partners in care:
‘Together, we help anyone living with an advanced illness make the last stages of their life as enjoyable as possible. If we can build strong relationships, then the future is bright for hospice care.’
Corinna would love to hear health and social professionals who are interested in knowing more about palliative care and the Hospice’s services. She’d also welcome hearing from GPs or hospital doctors interested in doing some work at Saint Francis Hospice.
Image credit: Saint Francis Hospice
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