The New Year has started with a flurry of meetings to drive the London and National End of Life Care Programme agenda, and there are great opportunities ahead.

The Ambitions Steering Group discussed at some length the developing Knowledge Hub, which aims to host case studies, examples of good practice and other content specifically aimed at aiding the implementation of the Ambitions Framework. The Hub is not intended to be used by those receiving personal support but will be open to the public for transparency and to allow anyone interested in the work to engage with us.

As an Ambitions Partner we are expected to support the Hub by signposting our own website resources and contributing content to be hosted on it. We have already agreed to support a task and finish group which will provide clear guidance on how the Hub will work and ADASS will be asked in the near future to renew its support of the Ambitions Partnership by reaffirming its commitment to the memorandum of understanding.

The second meeting I attended in 2017 was the NHSE London Clinical Leadership Group, of which I remain a personal member and represent ADASS as an associate. We were given updates on the National Programme, a progress report of roadshows that have taken place and details of the London event on 22nd February 2017. Work on the Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment (ReSPECT) was discussed, one development being the identification of a number of areas that will pilot this new way of recording individuals’ wishes. More information is available on the ReSPECT (check on 28th February 2017 for an update) and Resuscitation Council (UK) websites.

It was great to see a call for public representatives with personal experience of End of Life Care to apply to sit on the National EOLC Board. This addressed one of the concerns I raised alongside voluntary sector colleagues at the first meeting of the Board. Unfortunately, the timescales for the initial call for public representatives were unrealistic. Following my representation at the most recent Board meeting these deadlines have been pushed back and I am looking forward to this recruitment being given the chance it deserves.

A recent progress report highlighted the ADASS social care contribution to the Board as well as the outcomes it hopes to achieve through its continuing support. These include:

  • Exploring the role of Principal Social Workers (PSW);
  • Developing communication channels for professionals;
  • A focus on residential and nursing homes;
  • Hospital discharge initiatives;
  • Benchmarking against the End of Life Charter (which was signed by all London local authorities);
  • Maximising opportunities for Health and Wellbeing Boards; and
  • Championing the inclusion of EOLC priorities within STPs.

To make a difference in each of the above elements we need the cooperation of many people at all levels of the workforce, so please continue to support this important work however you can. I implore you to keep a watching brief on this work as it develops, for example by checking how the Minister’s letter was received and acted upon by the Chairs of your local Health and Wellbeing Boards. The more this work is discussed, the more likely we are to improve outcomes for the people it aims to help.

A joint meeting between ADASS and NHSE regional leads is due to take place on 7th March 2017, giving attendees an opportunity to influence how local health and social care services can work together to enhance service quality for people in their last year of life. More information will follow in due course.

I leave you with some good news I heard this week – that funding has been secured for a national survey of bereaved carers. I am passionately committed to this type of research and extremely pleased that the voices of carers will be heard. Only by listening can we improve the quality of services moving forward.