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Ground-breaking Academic Palliative Care Unit Officially Opened at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust

Patients in Liverpool are benefitting from an innovative and ground-breaking new Academic Palliative Care Unit at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, which officially opens today (Thursday 16th June 2016).

The Academic Palliative Care Unit was officially opened by Chief Inspector of Hospitals at the Care Quality Commission, Professor Sir Mike Richards, along with The Right Worshipful, The Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Roz Gladden.

The 12-bedded Unit aims to provide world-leading clinical and compassionate specialist care for patients with the most complex, high-dependency palliative and end of life care needs, and their families.

The Unit differs from other general and specialist wards in the hospital, with patients and their families benefitting from expert, research-led specialist palliative care, delivered in a specially designed ward within the hospital.

Care is led by a team of leading specialist palliative care consultants and nurses, in communication with patients and families, and supported by a team of specially trained nurses and health care assistants recruited not only for their clinical skills but because they have demonstrated, through a special recruitment process, the high level of compassion and emotional maturity required to provide high quality palliative and end of life care.

The specialist care on the Unit enables their palliative care treatment needs, such as pain relief, to be quickly and expertly assessed and addressed.

The aim is that that once a patient's palliative care needs are addressed they can be discharged to the most appropriate place of care, in line with their needs and wishes, such as home or hospice, with a key benefit being a reduced length of stay in hospital.

The health and wellbeing benefits of good design are well established and the team behind the Unit wanted to bring these benefits to patients with complex palliative and end of life care needs, and their families, in the hospital environment.

The Unit has been refurbished with the help of renowned North West based designers Nick and Ali Munro.

The colour scheme has been chosen for its therapeutic benefits, furniture has been specially selected to be comfortable whilst also being practical and hygienic in the hospital environment, and there is specially commissioned landscape artwork from local artists.

Special attention has been paid to the non-clinical areas so that families and friends benefit from a supportive environment.

The usual 'nurses station' area usually found on hospital wards has been replaced with a hotel style reception area, staffed by a receptionist who greets and gets to know patient's and families and supports families needs.

A welcoming 'Family and Friends Suite' is a key feature, with comfortable seating, private space and a kitchen area where families can make a cup of tea and snacks for themselves and patients, where possible, and can even stay overnight when this is needed.

This unique area within the Unit enables families to spend more time their loved-ones, to be more involved in their care, and provides a space where difficult conversations can be had in a more private and relaxed environment than is usual in a hospital ward. Visiting hours are open at all times.

The Unit is also a centre for world-leading research and service innovation, delivered in partnership with the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute Liverpool at the University of Liverpool.

This means that patients benefit from the latest, research based, innovative and compassionate care whilst also having the opportunity to take part in research that improves care for the future, leaving a legacy for the benefit of future patients as innovations and learning are shared in the UK and globally.

A patient who was recently cared for on the Unit wrote:

"Thank you so much for your care. It is your professionalism and dedication which is the pride of Liverpool. We are a close knit family (Scousers) and we have a very special City.

"Once again, I cannot find the words to express your loving care."

Professor John Ellershaw, Professor of Palliative Medicine and Director of the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute, said:

"We only get one chance to get care right for people towards the end of their lives and this unit is a major new milestone in us doing so.

"Patients benefit from the very best in palliative and end of life care, with their complex needs being met in one place when it is most needed and with a shorter in patient stay.

"Getting the clinical and compassionate care we provide right is vital but it is not the only thing we can do for patients and their families. Making sure the design of the Unit supports health and wellbeing for patients, families and, indeed, staff, is a major innovation and one we are sure will be a major benefit for everyone."

Professor Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Care Quality Commission, said:

"The work here in Liverpool is a clear example of where a combination of inspirational leadership, clinical and research expertise commitment and compassion is a catalyst for sustained innovation and improvement that is a testament to the quality of an individual life.

"I look forward to hearing about the continued success of the Academic Palliative Care Unit in Liverpool and seeing its impact on driving forward research based innovative and compassionate care across the health economy and beyond."

Aidan Kehoe, Chief Executive of the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust said:

"The Academic Palliative Care Unit is the result of the vision and 10-years' hard work from our dedicated team and reflects the high priority we place on Palliative and End of Life Care here at the Trust.

"We have already seen over 100 patients and their families benefit from the specialist care it provides and I am delighted that it has now been officially opened."

Lisa Grant, Chief Nurse, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

"This Unit and its staff don't just enhance patient treatment and care they touch the lives of each and every individual, be it patient or their loved one.

"You can't underestimate the power of the staff and Unit's personal touches and the impact this has.

"This Unit will transform patient and carer experience and will never be forgotten by those who use it."

Deborah Murphy, Palliative and End of Life Care Service Manager, said:

"The nursing team is playing a central role in delivering the high level of specialist clinical and compassionate care provided by the Unit.

"The skills mix is particularly important, led by highly specialist palliative care nurses and team of nurses and healthcare assistants selected for their natural compassion and emotional maturity and then specially trained for their roles on the team.

"Recruiting our nursing team in this way has been a real innovation and learning curve, but we have already seen the benefits in the high standard of care and compassion being delivered by our highly motivated team every day."

The Right Worshipful, The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Roz Gladden, said:

"I have been moved to hear the stories of patients and families who have already benefitted from the care offered by the Unit and I have been hugely impressed by the dedicated, committed healthcare staff I have met, all of whom make a huge difference in the wonderful care they provide for patients and families.

"The opening of this innovative and ground breaking Academic Palliative Care Unit at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust means that patients with the most complex, high dependency palliative and end of life care needs, and their families, are benefitting from cutting-edge clinical and compassionate care when they most need it."


For more information contact:

Ben O'Brien on 07966 674 053 /