Video Conferencing improves palliative and end of life care in Lincolnshire 

St Barnabas Hospice supports 10,500 people each year, but with Project ECHO, a worldwide initiative to improve care for end of life patients they have already assisted hundreds more in Lincolnshire.

Project ECHO, launched in the US state of Mexico allows clinicians to work from their base and reach out to multiple heath providers through video conferencing.

St Barnabas clinicians have adopted this concept and are engaging with Lincolnshire care homes. The key objective is to share their vast wealth of knowledge of caring for patients who have a life limiting illnesses.

The Lincolnshire care homes that the Hospice has worked with over six months have a total of 432 nursing and residential beds. As Project ECHO continues the potential to support thousands more end of life, elderly patients with better care is possible.

Nicky Ingall, Clinical Services Business Manager explains;

“We are stronger together” is never truer in the health care system. With increasing pressures on resources, supporting our peers with knowledge and experience is more critical than ever. There’s no denying that technology, such as video conferencing has a crucial role to play in this. That is where Project ECHO comes in.

This project breaks down traditional barriers, like time restraints and ‘expert to non-expert’ teaching hierarchies. We have a network of clinicians, nursing staff and carers all sharing their own experiences.

For example, in a care home the health care assistant is often more of an expert on a particular patient than the palliative care expert based miles away.”

Nicky continues;

“We are grateful to everyone who entered into the spirit of Project ECHO with gusto. The engagement between us, St Barnabas and all 12 care homes has been overwhelmingly positive. We want to thank our first group of care providers who have trusted us and given us their time.

The project is still in its infancy, but a six month review has shown unanimous positive feedback from everyone involved. The care homes have a new network of support and knowledge of how St Barnabas, such as Hospice at Home can assist them in caring for their residents better.”

Helen Reilly, from Oakdene Care Home spoke highly of the impact Project Echo has had on her own confidence to support the residence in her care;

“We now have a toolkit to take away with us and share with our teams. Every person’s wishes and health issues are different, but I personally now feel better informed to make sure the care is patient centered. St Barnabas has taught me to concentrate on the person’s wishes, as end of life care focuses on comfort for them and their family.”

If you would like to know more about Project ECHO, or gain further information about the services St Barnabas offer visit www.stbarnabashospice.co.uk

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