Compassion has long been one of the NHS’s core values, and it is a central focus for how health and social care professionals in the UK deliver care. Compassionate healthcare emphasises empathy, respect, and genuine concern for patients’ well-being, going beyond addressing a patient’s physical needs and taking into consideration their emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs.

Ensuring all those involved in treating a patient understand and respect their wishes is a necessity when it comes to delivering compassionate care. This alignment is particularly important during end-of-life care, when a patient may have specific preferences regarding treatment, interventions, and comfort measures.

To minimise harm, avoid non-essential or non-beneficial investigations, and reduce the emotional burden of making difficult decisions during already stressful times, patients can document their wishes in advance care plans. Doing so can help ensure patients maintain a sense of control over their care and improve communication among healthcare providers, patients and their families so that care can be coordinated effectively.

Advancing end-of-life care in Devon and Cornwall

In Devon and Cornwall, Treatment Escalation Plans (eTEPs) form part of the advance care planning process, focusing on supporting the wishes of patients who are unstable or at risk of dying. These plans are captured digitally and held within The Devon and Cornwall Care Record (DCCR). They help ensure the patient’s treatment goals are clearly developed, understood, and accessible to all members of their care team.

Continuity of care is essential during emotionally challenging times for patients and their families, such as during end-of-life care. For example, suppose an ambulance crew visits a patient in their home who cannot communicate their needs, and the crew doesn’t have access to their TEP to understand their wishes. In that case, it may result in the patient being taken to hospital rather than remaining and being treated in their home. Enabling TEPs to be viewed via the DCCR can help enhance the patient’s quality of life during their final days, ultimately ensuring their experience is as comfortable and peaceful as possible.

Devon and Cornwall’s eTEP solution has been on a phased rollout since October 2023, and the DCCR has over 1,000 TEPs available within the system, a number that is growing weekly.

Creating a compassionate health system

Creating a compassionate health system and the critical role of advance care planning during end-of-life care will be a key talking point at the upcoming Orion Health Tech Forum on 11th June. Vianney Chauvineau will provide an overview of the latest technology available in this area, and Ian Binks will lead a panel discussion with Jane Bullard from NHS Devon and Jane Owens from Joined Up Care Derbyshire, who will delve into their efforts in advancing end-of-life care initiatives and future developments.

To hear more about the panellists’ first-hand experience in providing compassionate healthcare and learn about other shared care record innovations that will continue to transform patient care, visit the registration page to secure your place now.