The Baslow Health Centre in Bakewell, Derbyshire, which was the focus of last year's two-part BBC documentary The Real Peak Practice, was rated ‘outstanding’ by the CQC, marking it among the top 4% of practices in the country, according to inspectors.
Evidence presented during inspection showed that 97% of the practice's patients who died in the previous 12 months had died within their preferred place as a result of the planning and support provided by the practice.
Inspectors said the practice's ‘significant efforts’ had yielded ‘excellent outcomes’ for patients.
The service sees GPs visiting patients in the evenings and at weekends, responding immediately to requests for assistance with end-of-life care and acquiring particular medicines. The GPs also provide personalised bereavement support to families and carers.
The scheme has now evolved into a charity called Helen’s Trust, named after one of the surgery’s patients, Helen Louise Lyon, who passed away in 2001 after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The charity was launched by her family and her GP Dr Louise Jordan to ensure more terminally ill patients could be cared for in their own home and be supported to die there if they wished to do so.
The practice's approach to end-of-life care was highlighted in the first episode of The Real Peak Practice, in which Dr Jordan spoke about her own personal experiences and her passion for giving patients a ‘good death’.
Over the last 15 years, the charity has grown to cater for 150 patients, covering the whole of North Derbyshire and the High Peak.
The scheme is available for free to patients with any terminal illness and a perceived prognosis of six months or less.
Core services available through the scheme include a night sitting service and respite supports for carers. But Heidi Hawkins, chief executive of Helen’s Trust, told GPonline that it would consider any measures that could help support patients.
Some more tailored solutions have seen it provide transport to and from hospital, supply a washing machine and buy a gas isolator to ensure an elderly patient with end stage dementia could not accidentally turn his gas cooker on.
Ms Hawkins said: ‘The service started for the patients of Baslow Health Centre and fundraising began. The community really took the service to its heart, and other surgeries began requesting help for their own patients.
‘It's always been about engagement and passion. The team have seen, first hand, the difference that the specialised end of life services Helen's Trust provides has made to their patients and equally they have felt like valuable contributors to the charity's fundraising work.
‘We would encourage other practises to keep the option of using Helen's Trust as a top priority. It truly does take one phone call and no paperwork.
‘Sometimes it all seems too much to organise but not only does caring for the terminally ill at home benefit the individual and their family it is a really good feeling for the entire practice team when a patient has a good death.’
CQC outstanding practice
The CQC report said: ‘The practice worked to recognise high quality standards for end-of-life care and had written care plans in place to ensure that patient wishes were clear, and that they were involved in the planning of their own care.
‘Many examples were provided to demonstrate the exemplary end-of-life care provided by the GPs and the practice team. Extensive planning was undertaken to provide optimal care and a personalised service to patients and their families.
‘Enormous efforts were employed to care for patients in their own home and we were informed of two recent examples where this had been achieved for patients with dementia and a learning disability.’
Janet Williamson, deputy chief inspector of general practice, added: ‘All of the hard work at this service pays off in making a real difference to patients – which is why we have found this practice to be outstanding.’