Skills for Health, Health Education England and Skills for Care have announced a new End of Life Care Core Skills Education and Training Framework, with the aim of providing tailored, high-quality care and support to patients with advanced incurable illness and their families.
Health Education England commissioned Skills for Health and Skills for Care to develop the framework as an expansion of the existing Common Core Principles and Competences for individuals working in the sector. It was developed in close coordination with a steering group of healthcare organisations, hospices, campaign groups and academic institutions from around the UK.
Most individuals working in health and social care are likely to care for someone approaching their end of life at some time. Bringing core skills and knowledge together in this way will enable organisations, service providers and clinical teams to benchmark their own standards, identify areas they need to improve and take steps to address them.
The framework builds on the Government’s National End of Life Care Strategy and response to the Review of End of Life Care, which stated that everyone has access to ‘high quality, personalised end of life care built around their needs’. This person-centred approach is key to current thinking and policy around end of life care: considering each patient’s individual needs, preferences and available support networks and involving them and their families and carers in decisions around their care.
To achieve this, the new framework promotes greater collaboration between organisations in the health and care sectors and in the community. It is underpinned by six guiding principles, including seeing each patient as an individual, maximising comfort and wellbeing and ensuring care is coordinated, all to help people ‘live as well as possible until they die.’
The framework is applicable to individuals working across the health and social care sectors, as well as their employers, community organisations and education and training providers. It classifies key skills and knowledge into three tiers, ranging from general end of life care awareness to the in-depth knowledge needed to care for and support an individual approaching the end of their life, and their family.
John Rogers, Skills for Health said, ‘Health and social care staff have the opportunity to make a positive difference to the experience of people who are at the end of their life, their families and carers; not just through palliative treatment but also through emotional support. This can be a rewarding but also demanding experience, requiring a diverse mixture of technical skills, knowledge, compassion and resilience. It is vital that staff are equipped to meet these expectations. This new framework will consolidate, clarify and benchmark the key knowledge and competences staff at all levels need to provide patients and their families with the very best support and care at this vulnerable time.’
Sharon Allen, Chief Executive, Skills for Care, said, “High-quality end of life care that supports people’s needs, as well as their family and support networks, is something everyone has an absolute right to expect. This easy-to-use framework supports social care and health workers to understand the key issues around good end of life care to make sure they can provide quality care and support when the person they are working with needs it the most.”
Professor Wendy Reid, Director of Education and Quality and Medical Director, Health Education England: “We recognise the importance of a wide range of skills in those looking after patients at the end of their lives. The health and care workforce have the opportunity to make a positive difference to the experience of those facing end of life and with the right skills and knowledge, can ensure respect, dignity and choice for individuals and their families.
“This Framework will help organisations provide appropriate education and training that equips teams with the skills, knowledge and confidence needed to deliver high quality, person centred, end of life care.”