Pioneering service marks 10 years of care

Charles Burton, Macmillan volunteer, cutting the cake
Charles Burton, Macmillan volunteer, cutting the cake

The Midhurst Macmillan Service is marking 10 years of pioneering palliative care.

In the last decade the Midhurst Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Service, provided by Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with Macmillan, has supported thousands of local individuals and their families with its holistic approach focussing on hands on care. The pioneering service, which supports people with cancer and other life threatening diseases at the end of their life, is now celebrating 10 years of care.

The service has been so successful, in both improving the care for people living with cancer and life limiting conditions and delivering financial savings, that it has inspired six additional “Macmillan Specialist Care at Home” projects across the country.

One of the key aims of the Midhurst service is to offer people a real choice for their treatment and end of life care with many choosing to be supported at home.

Jo Stuttaford, joint service lead, said: “The service has grown over the last 10 years and particularly catered for those who seek a choice as to where they are cared for and ultimately die. Care at home ensures familiar surroundings coupled with immediate proximity to their loved ones and relatives”.

Midhurst’s success has been attributed to its pioneering approach – a consultant led multidisciplinary team consisting of highly skilled doctors, nurses, support workers and other professionals to provide flexible and personalised care for every patient. Patients are referred for specialist care at the earliest opportunity, and offered as much medical treatment and support in the home as possible. The team also collaborates with a range of local health and social care organisations to join up and co-ordinate the right support for the individual person.

Independent research into the Midhurst Service showed that patients and carers had a high-quality experience of care and that by reducing emergency admissions and hospital stays the total cost to the health and social care system of caring for people in the last year of life was reduced.

Peter Stenning, 73, from Storrington, was diagnosed with liver cancer 10 years ago and has always been treated by the Midhurst Macmillan team in his home.

He said: “They have been absolutely fantastic and I cannot praise them enough. They have taken so much care of me and I truly believe that I would not still be here if it wasn’t for them.”

One of the procedures Peter has had done at home included having 35 pints of liquid drained from his stomach by a doctor – something which would normally be done in a hospital.

Peter who now has secondary cancer and a weakened immune system added: “From my very first diagnosis the Macmillan team have organised everything for me to ensure I have the very best care at home with my wife by my side.”

The service relies on the direct support from the Macmillan Cancer Support Shop in Midhurst (which has been raising funds for more than 20 years) and local donations and legacies. Local fund raisers work tirelessly to support the service.

Arabella Madge, Midhurst shop manager, said: “We would like to thank all the local community who continue to support us through donations or volunteering as this can help more of our patients in the Midhurst area. We raised an amazing £158,000 in shop sales alone last year, and we are always keen to receive quality items to ensure we continue to raise such a fabulous amount.”

End of life care services provided by Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust have been rated “Outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission for how it responds to people’s needs.

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