Hospices make a vital contribution to supporting people at the end of life and their families. The care they provide is dignified and personal, supporting people’s emotional, physical, social and spiritual needs, both in their own home and in inpatient settings. Hospices are widely acknowledged to deliver high quality palliative care both by those that use them and professionals working in other settings.
The LCP is a tool used by many hospices to help staff provide appropriate care for someone in the last few hours or days of life. Through good communication and shared goals, it helps ensure the comfort of the patient is maintained at all times and the needs of their family are met.
The LCP is not and never will be a substitute for good decision making on the part of professionals and it should always reflect the needs and preferences of the individual.
Heather Richardson, national clinical lead for Help the Hospices, explains:
"Help the Hospices believes that the LCP has played an important role in improving the experience of people who are dying and we support the use of this tool where staff have been trained appropriately in its application.
"We believe everyone should have access to the best possible care at the end of life, whoever they are, whatever their illness and wherever they are dying. The LCP has gone a long way to help achieve this.
"But there is still a long way to go to ensure high quality care is available to all. We urgently need to build on the palliative care training which is currently available to health professionals and in particular to those who are unfamiliar with the LCP.
"It is also important that professionals in palliative care work together and with families and carers to build the evidence base for the LCP and its impact."
Help the Hospices welcomes and encourages more debate on how we care for the dying. But this important debate must be informed and balanced.
Heather Richardson adds:
"Recent media coverage around a small number of distressing stories has been sensationalist and at times inaccurate. It risks causing unnecessary distress to people at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives and may even prevent people from receiving the care that they need."
Help the Hospices is one of 22 health and social care organisations who have signed a consensus statement supporting the appropriate use of the Liverpool Care Pathway.
Please contact the Help the Hospices media team.