At this year’s 3rd Sector Care Awards, Mount Ephraim House won an award for their End of Life Care. The care team at Mount Ephraim House see ‘End of Life’ care as a huge part of the care they deliver.
“We don’t shy away from death in the home – it’s part of life” says Karen Cooper, Home Manager of Mount Ephraim House care home in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
Karen certainly knows what she is talking about as her Care Team was recently awarded for the excellent End of Life Care at the 3rd Sector Care Awards on 9th December 2015.
Mount Ephraim House takes the approach that all its residents and their families become part of the bigger family which has been created within the home. Being surrounded by people the residents feel they can trust, they are much more open to talk about any concerns or wishes they may have for the last stage of their life at the home. However it takes time for a new resident to settle into the care home and build the trusting relationship with their key worker and other care home staff. Once this has been achieved, conversations on the subject of dying become less daunting for the resident.
The care team at the home ensures that they can fulfil any special requests/wishes the resident may have before they die. One resident wished to see Elvis Presley so the team arranged for an Elvis impersonator to come to the home and make the resident’s wish come true.
A personal end of life plan is created for each of the residents, which includes life histories to help the staff work with families and the resident to create a plan that will meet their needs. Having a life history is particularly important if a resident with dementia may not be able to express their own wishes. The plan is then discussed with the family members and friends, who the resident wishes to involve in the end of their life, to ensure that they understand the wishes of their loved one. All documents are signed by all parties involved in putting the plan together. Residents and their families know that these plans can be changed if the need arises.
Having strong relationships and trust with all the healthcare professionals is important, as they provide vital support at the end of the resident’s life. With the support of the healthcare professionals, the staff at the care home are able to ensure that they have all the equipment they need to provide good end of life experience for everyone involved.
The residents who are approaching the end of their life are registered with a specialist GP and put on the end of life register. This helps to avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital, which can cause an additional stress for the resident and their family/friends at the crucial time in the resident’s life. The local GPs are also able to keep in touch with families through the end of life process.
On the important day, the care team take time to sit with dying residents, making sure they wear favourite clothing and have valued items at hand. The ambience in their room is created to match the resident’s wishes. The staff also ensure their support is extended to friends and families. They spend time with families and friends giving them the time and space that they need.
When the resident dies, care home staff and other residents attend funerals and they are allowed to pay their last respects if they wish to. The life of the resident who passed away is celebrated by having memorial teas. The relatives of the past residents often hold wakes at the home and come back for tea on the anniversary of when their loved one passed away. The staff at the home recognise how important it is for individuals not to feel that they will quickly become forgotten. The home has in-memoriam plants, benches, murals and even an art studio in memory of one of the residents.
Relatives and friends often continue to support Mount Ephraim House as volunteers, as they miss coming into the home after their loved one has gone.