2010 winner

Winner: Heatherstones Nursing Home

Highly commended: Jason Davidson

Highly commended: Denise Heals

2010 Winner: Heatherstones Nursing Home in Halifax, Yorkshire.
Halifax is nursing home for eight adults with learning disabilities. When one of their residents, Patsy (a woman with Down Syndrome who had lived there for eight years), developed dementia and end of life care needs, Patsy’s sister brought the Gold Standards Framework to the attention of the staff team. The Gold Standards Framework is a systematic evidence based approach to optimising the care for patients nearing the end of life delivered by generalist providers. It runs a national training and quality assurance programme for care homes, aimed at building confidence and experience, and based on up-to-date evidence of best practice.

The team completed the comprehensive training programme and have maintained GSF accreditation through annual re-assessments. This enabled them to support Patsy with confidence and skill. They brought in the relevant outside professionals when needed; where able to anticipate problems and be pro-active, including problems with symptom management; supported Patsy to live fully until the end of her life, and to be able to remain at Heatherstones where she felt safe; and supported her family to be fully part of Patsy’s life.

Gerard Wainwright described Patsy’s final week of life: “Far from being, Patsy’s last week was full of happy memories. In line with her Advance Care plan she had her favourite Irish music playing on the stereo and her family showed a number of videos of her at dances, weddings and other happy family occasions. At her their request there was lots of laughter during this time, as well as tears and reminiscences about her life. It was a very precious time for her and her family. Her sister often commented that in her final week Patsy looked more relaxed and peaceful than she had seen her for a long time.”

The judges were impressed with the way the team at Heatherstones combined their dedication and obvious commitment to Patsy and her family with skilled professionalism that is sustainable and replicable. Their outstanding care and support for Patsy did not depend solely on the goodwill of the staff: it was sustained by rigorous training and commitment of resources. We are delighted to hold up this home as a beacon of excellence.

Highly commended 2010: Jason Davidson
Jason has been a social worker at St Joseph’s Hospice in London for two years. He has past experience of working with people with learning disabilities. He first started to talk about the opportunities available to the hospice to address the end of life care needs of people with learning disabilities at his job interview!
Jason had a major role in establishing a strong and increasing commitment on the part of the hospice to improving the experience of people with learning disabilities who approach the end of life, their families and carers. Within a short space of time, he has established important links between the hospice and learning disability services in the area; ran training for hospice staff; and made a significant contribution to high quality care provision of patient with learning disabilities referred to the hospice. He has attracted funding for the hospice to support a project concerned specifically with improving the experience of people with learning disabilities at the end of life.

Highly commended 2010: Denise Heals
Denise is an Education Facilitator at Dorothy House Hospice Care in Wiltshire. She has been innovative in shaping her new role, started in 2009, as a Practice Development Nurse, Learning Disability/Palliative Care covering a wide geographical area.

The role includes running a two day training programme for direct care staff in learning disabilities, supporting practitioners within their own working environment, and helping teams and managers in learning disability services to identify training needs and practice development initiatives. One of her roles is to work with a core group of learning disability staff (could be managers, whole care team or interested care workers) over a set period of time (6-9 months) to help them in their identified area of need around end of life care provision. Additional meetings are scheduled at which progress is reviewed against the plan, issues discussed and explored. There is clear evidence of the positive impact Denise’s work has had on the provision of end of life care by learning disability teams in her area.