* The launch of the new service by Nightingale House Hospice.
A new permanent hospice service for patients with advanced heart failure and palliative care needs has been launched in Wrexham.
It will give patients with the condition improved access to managing their care in a planned and coordinated way, enabling them to live their best life possible.
Nightingale House Hospice on Chester Road has been able to launch the service following recruitment of a heart failure nurse specialist.
The post was developed following a pilot project which was made possible through a £40,000 grant from the St James’s Place Charitable Foundation, administered by Hospice UK.
BCU Health Board made further resources possible during the length of the project to complete the project aims. The project evaluation identified a need for patients with heart failure to have better palliative care for their condition.
A total of 26% of patient deaths are heart failure related in the UK compared to 27% for cancer patients, yet only 4% percent of heart failure patients are cared for by a hospice and palliative care team compared to 70% of cancer patients.
During the pilot project (November 2017-May 2019) some heart failure patients said they were frightened and shocked to be given an appointment at Nightingale House Hospice due to the misconception that it is only for people with cancer.
The new clinic enables patients to be assessed by a specialist heart failure nurse linked with palliative care, to give advice including practical and emotional concerns of living with heart failure; this might be years before death.
Dr Jenny Welstand, Hospice Heart Failure Nurse Specialist, said: “Palliative symptoms are often under-estimated and inadequately addressed, mainly because patients can often look much better than they feel. The service allows us to assess patients in clinic and via telephone, not only to manage their symptoms and medication alongside the heart failure team, but also to support them with concerns and problems they identify as important to them. Importantly we also support families who often shoulder the burden of care and the emotional issues this brings.
“We received significant feedback from our patients who were adamant they wanted to live their lives in the best way possible and feel supported. As our joint pilot project progressed the word ‘hospice’ became less of a fear as the benefits of the service developed.
“Hospice-enabled care has transformed the care our local Heart Failure Team can offer and invigorated our hospice team. Both teams know we still have so much to learn, but we want to carry on doing this together.”
Here are some of the things heart failure patients told the team when they were initially referred for an assessment at Nightingale House Hospice on Chester Road, Wrexham:
“It frightened me when the hospice was mentioned, I thought I had cancer.”
“I’ve never really been ill before and thought that when the hospice was mentioned, I only had a few weeks left to live.”
The new collaborative service now available at Nightingale House Hospice, delivered by the Heart Failure Nurse and specialist palliative care team, combines a unique blend of knowledge and experience to improve care for patients.
Sue Glover’s late husband Paul had stage four kidney cancer and needed to have a replacement heart valve. But in March 2018 Paul had a severe reaction to his cancer medication which severely damaged the pumping ability of his heart, meaning he developed heart failure.
“We came to see Jenny here at Nightingale House where we chatted, and she explained lots of things to Paul. She helped support him to tap into other resources that meant he could stay at home for as long as possible. Sadly, Paul passed away in hospital due to complications but to see this project now become a permanent service for those experiencing heart failure is just fantastic.”
Karl Benn, Head of Grants, Hospice UK, said: “Hospices are not just about cancer, it’s about the whole issue of how we approach death and dying.
“Patients diagnosed with heart failure in the Nightingale House catchment area will now be able to access a service that will mean they, together with their families and carers can learn to cope with their life limiting illness and adjust to the challenges that brings.
“Some of the projects we fund don’t continue so it is fantastic to see real success here. It’s encouraging to know the funding provided through St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation will continue to have an impact well beyond the life of the grant.”Medwyn Edwards, of Hadlow Edwards Wealth Management, Wrexham, is the local representative for St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation. He said: “We are delighted to have been able to give this grant funding via Hospice UK to support the Heart Failure Project at Nightingale House and enable them to develop an innovative and effective support service that help improve the the quality of life for people with life limiting illnesses and improve their end of life care.”