Many of us working in the social care world know that there are times when something hits a nerve and releases a passion and drive that makes us want to try and make a difference and lead improvement. That happened for me when part of my daily routine was involved with how the health and social care system supported people in their last year of life. According to John Powell, it was not good.
WHAT I EXPERIENCED with my Dad dying was not comfortable and so I decided at that time to try, through my role in social care, to influence how health and social care worked together in a better way that provided choice and empowerment for the individual at end of life. Making decisions about how they spent the last year of their life and how the care and support they needed was provided became important.
As a leader within adult social care the obvious place was to start with my peers in London and gain their support for our having a work stream that focused on how social care supported people to make choices, and to challenge our organisations to make improvements. The support for the London ADASS end-of-life care (EOLC) Network has demonstrated that not only was there a need for people to discuss this topic, but also to make a difference by challenging and working towards making local improvements.
The Network gained credibility and other partners within the NHS and voluntary sector asked to collaborate and work together at a time when `how people were supported at the end of life’ became a national topic. Thus was born the Pan London End of Life Alliance, bringing together social care, the NHS and major charities to challenge and trigger improvements across London in what I now know to be a very complex world.
At the same time there was a national call for some leadership and direction following the fallout of the Liverpool Care Pathway debate and with so many organisations working in the palliative and end-of-life space this would be a significant challenge and require significant coordination and leadership to try and provide a national framework for local action for palliative and EOLC.
Prof Bee Wee, National Clinical Director for End of Life Care, NHS England and Dr Jane Collins, Chief Executive, Marie Curie and Co-chair of the National Partnership for End of Life have provided that leadership. The Partnership is extensive and the important thing for me is that the voice of ADASS and what social care can bring to this work has been fully embraced.
The final outcome of this extensive and complex work is the Ambitions for Palliative and End of Life Care a national framework for action 2015-2020.
I have come to terms with the fact that some changes take time to implement but I really believe, as the policy lead for EoLC in ADASS, that this time is a great opportunity and I would commend this document and challenge you to read it and ask the question locally about implementation.
If embraced, by us and our colleagues I believe that these Ambitions can be turned into reality and make a significant difference to people within our communities.
John Powell is ADASS National Lead on End-of-Life Care