A service which delivers accredited end of life care training to nursing homes across Wandsworth has recently celebrated 7 years of service. A Gold Standards Framework (GSF) Facilitator from Royal Trinity Hospice trains staff working in 10 nursing homes in Wandsworth to develop their skills in identifying and caring for people approaching the end of their life, avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions.

With an ageing population living with complex and chronic long-term conditions, nursing home staff are called on to care for people in their final year of life on a daily basis. Yet studies have found that these staff have significant unmet training needs.

Key skills gaps include identifying when someone is approaching the end of life, communicating effectively with distressed family members and understanding when and how to contact specialist support.

There is evidence that a lack of confidence in these areas can result in emergency 999 calls in times of crisis and avoidable admissions, and deaths, in hospital.

Trinity’s GSF service, funded by Wandsworth CCG, provides a structured programme of education for nursing home staff of all disciplines, including nurses, care assistants, housekeeping staff, chefs and activity coordinators.

Training includes a comprehensive induction in end of life care as well as ongoing updates. Staff can also access resources and tools to support good practice.

As a result of improved staff confidence and better advanced care planning, the proportion of residents able to die at home in a care home has increased from 76% in 2011 to 80% in 2016.

Nicki Parry, Wandsworth GSF Facilitator, said "People are often frightened about the quality of care they will receive in a nursing home but it doesn’t need to be this way.

Over the past few years, I have seen that with support, commitment from the homes and staff dedicated to delivering quality care, change can and does happen.

With appropriate support, there is no reason why someone should not experience the same quality of end of life care in a nursing home as in hospital, with the added bonus of being cared for by people who know you and your family.”