The Home Hospice service begins

13 April 2022

1 April marked the launch of the Home Hospice service, which aims to enable more patients the chance to die at home, if this is their wish, and be cared for in comfort and with support in place.

The service is a unique partnership between Oxford University Hospitals (OUH), Sobell House Hospice Charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, and Social Finance, with Sobell House providing a £4m grant to help fund the project.

We are so grateful for the generous support of our community for making this project possible. Quality end of life care can be costly, but we are confident that the Home Hospice service will make a huge difference in the lives of our patients and their loved ones, allowing people to die well, in comfort, in a place they choose to be.

To find out more about the Home Hospice service, please read the Q&A below with Victoria Bradley, the Clinical Lead for Sobell House.

What is the Home Hospice service and how did it come about?
The Home Hospice service looks to improve the end of life care for patients who wish to die in their own home. For a long time, Sobell House Hospice has been known to provide great care, but the nature of the hospice means we can only care for a small number of people who are dying, and, of course, not everyone wants to die in a hospice. Therefore, we are not reaching all of our community.

When we launched the hospitals project a few years ago, funded by Sobell House Hospice Charity, we took some of the most important elements of hospice care and implemented them in our hospitals across Oxfordshire. We have received some lovely compliments from relatives and patients who received this care in hospitals and we can track in national audits that our care is getting better and better.

What we want to do now is try to bring the hospice into people’s homes. People living in some parts of Oxfordshire already have access to enhanced care when they’re dying, but in other parts of the county the availability, accessibility and quality of care is variable. This project aims to start to bridge this gap.

What are the key components of the Home Hospice service?
The first is a Home Hospice care team. This is a team of 37 qualified patient support workers, who are already experienced staff, and who will provide hands-on care to patients dying at home. It may be one or two carers going in up to four times a day, helping patients with essential things like washing, dressing and taking medicine. This team will come with the benefits of training and support from the specialist teams based at Sobell House.

The second aspect of the project is enhancing our central ‘hub’ which acts as a nerve centre for the whole service – co-ordinating and managing care. We are hiring 18 new staff members to enable us to be more flexibility and efficient in dealing with patient enquiries. This means that the right care can be deployed more quickly and effectively.

Thirdly, we are implementing a rapid response team, which will be 23 new staff members. Some will work in the hospitals in Oxfordshire and help with rapid discharge for patients who are dying and are desperate to be home. Others will work in the community to offer a same-day response to patients in crisis with symptoms or care, to try to support them staying at home if that is their wish.

What will this look like from a patient perspective?
This avoids patients having to make the choice between receiving potentially poorer quality of care at home or dying in hospital. If the patient is already at home, it means they will be given access to a higher quality of care there. The project is all about being responsive and reacting to patients’ needs, and respecting and supporting a patient’s choice.

How will the Home Hospice service benefit the relatives and loved ones of a patient?
It means they can be family members rather than carers. They can focus on spending quality time together. What we’re hoping to do with this project is re-create the key elements of hospice care in a tiny form in every place it’s needed, giving both the patient and their loved ones the vital support and care that we know we do so well.