A new inspectorate for palliative care providers in Wales could be established under plans unveiled in a Welsh assembly government-commissioned review.
Care homes and hospices could face regular inspections under a new framework of standards, as set out by the All-Wales Palliative Care Planning Group.
Better partnerships between health and social services are needed to drive up standards, according to the report, which sets out plans for core-funded multi-disciplinary teams including social workers and welfare support workers.
Other proposals to be implemented over the next three years include a 24-hour helpline and “24/7 specialist support and advice” for people with life-limiting conditions.
The advisory group, consisting of experts from medicine, hospice providers and the Welsh assembly, carried out a nine-month review of services, consulting doctors, providers, service users and their families.
Their report concludes that although “there are many examples of good services across Wales”, gaps exist in the provision of staff, training for independent care home nursing staff, and funding for voluntary sector providers.
New inspection regime proposed
Deficiencies in the inspection regime, currently overseen by the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales and Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales, are also highlighted. At present, only units with registered specialist beds are inspected on a compulsory basis, which should be extended to all palliative care providers including in-patient and day care services, according to the report.
A new standards framework could include feedback from patients, carers and families as a performance indicator.
£8m pledged for palliative care
Following the publication of the report, minister for health and social services Edwina Hart today pledged £8m for NHS and voluntary sector palliative care services over the next three years. She said an implementation group had been set up to take forward the recommendations from today’s report.
Councils are key to improving palliative care services for children