A new approach to palliative care is being developed by experts and clinicians across King’s Health Partners to improve the quality of services for patients and families across south London.
The programme of work, called Outcome Assessment and Complexity Collaborative (OACC) for palliative care, has been awarded over £450,000 funding from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and will begin later this year.
Almost all assessments of palliative care focus on the structure and process of care and not on its effectiveness and quality. This programme will implement a system to measure patient outcomes, evaluate patient feedback about the quality of care, and then use this information to make improvements across King’s Health Partners. The specific objectives are:
• To develop training programmes including workshops, e-learning modules and online materials for staff to learn about the importance of measuring outcomes for patients. Training will also be provided for informal care-givers to value their crucial role in the care process.
• To integrate IT processes for gathering and processing information about patient outcomes in palliative care.
• To collect data about patient outcomes from across King’s Health Partners. The collection of this data will become part of the day-to-day clinical practice of doctors and health professionals working in end-of-life care.
• To feedback data to services and staff teams to enable them to make improvements to the quality of care provided.
Professor Irene Higginson is Director of the Cicely Saunders Institute and Lead Applicant for this programme, which was developed by colleagues from across King’s Health Partners including Clinical Senior Lecturer Dr Fliss Murtagh and Research Fellow Dr Barbara Daveson. Professor Higginson said: “The team working on this study draws on the strengths of clinicians and academics from across King’s Health Partners. This collaborative approach will measure outcomes and evaluate the feedback from patients to make improvements in palliative and end-of-life care and enable us to provide better services for local patients and their families.
“There is a growing body of research that shows that evaluating patient outcomes is the best way to make improvements in palliative care, and this new approach will translate this body of research into clinical practice – making it the first of its kind in England to do so.”
Dr Fliss Murtagh, Consultant and Clinical Senior Lecturer in Palliative Care at King’s College London, said: “OACC will provide national innovation in palliative care in England and will enable leadership for benchmarking in palliative care while also remaining firmly focused on the need to improve outcomes for patient and families locally.”
Dr Barbara Daveson, Research Fellow at King’s College London, said: “An innovative whole systems approach will be used to ensure that OACC is responsive to the needs of all, including patients and families, clinicians, managers and researchers.”
Professor John Moxham, Director of Clinical Strategy, King’s Health Partners welcomed the news saying: “The goal of King’s Health Partners is to improve health and wellbeing. Documenting outcomes of interventions, treatments and care is essential. Without outcomes data we cannot know how good out services are and if they are improving. Understanding the outcomes that matter to patients who are receiving palliative care is of obvious importance, but surprisingly little studied. This work will transform palliative care for patients and families in south London by implementing outcomes measures and improving the quality of our services.”