I’ve had a long career in generalist primary care practice management, so stepping into a new role as Fife’s palliative care improvement advisor may have seemed at first like a leap into unfamiliar, specialist territory.
But, as one doctor said to me, palliative care is the bread and butter of primary care.
Both services share a deep-rooted holistic philosophy that deals with the emotional, social, practical and spiritual aspects of health and well-being, as well as the medical management of illness.
So, for me, a move to palliative care felt like a home coming.
I’m working with Fife’s health and social care partnership to realise the Scottish Government’s vision, that by 2021 everyone who needs palliative care will have access to it.
Our aim is to innovate and improve the identification and care coordination for people who may benefit from palliative care.
What people want is support to live well, safely and for longer in their usual place of residence. What people want is to have quick and easy access to responsive services and trusted care providers when they need them. These principals are universal to both primary and palliative care.
Some of our improvement work will focus on developing palliative care in the community, with providers that people know well. This will extend identification beyond those with cancer. Anyone living with long term conditions and growing frailty would benefit from early palliative care.
But identification is only part of the story.
As important is the coordination of responsive, person-centered services. Services that are delivered through closer, enhanced multi-disciplinary team working. Services that are nearer to people. Services that are geared towards improving continuity between people and their care providers.
You’ll hear more about my work in the coming months. I’d be delighted to learn from your community palliative care initiatives, and to hear your suggestions for improving identification and coordination of palliative care.
Please do get in touch.