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Autumn 2023 newsletter

Welcome to the Autumn 2023 newsletter from Supportive Care UK. As always, we've been pretty busy since we were last in touch; here's what's been going on, and what's coming up in the months ahead.

New partnerships designed to suit our providers

As no two organisations are the same, we don't offer one-size-fits-all partnerships. Instead, we make sure that the support we offer is tailored to match each care provider's specific needs. And our suite of new partners demonstrates this really clearly.

For organisations that just need consultant-level cover outside of the normal working day, we provide a full out-of-hours service. Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Western Health and Social Care Trust in Belfast, and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly ICB, have all joined us on this basis.

For providers that require different levels of support at different times, we offer ad-hoc partnerships. These allow them to select the cover they need, when they need it, without being tied into anything else. The Myton Hospices Group in Warwickshire, and Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington, have recently come on board in this way.

And for those who need more consistent, in-depth support, we can provide board rounds, MDTs and daytime on-call, at whatever level and frequency they choose. The Mary Stevens Hospice in Stourbridge and St Cuthbert's Hospice in Durham have recently partnered with us at this level.So if your needs are changing, or you would like to explore different ways to work with us, please do get in touch; we can create a bespoke partnership package to suit you.

Snap up a place in our Jan 2024 cohort

Over the past few months, our CEO Charlotte Healey has been working with Professor Matt Makin and Professor Derek Willis to create a coaching programme for would-be clinical and medical directors.It's designed to create a community of emerging leaders, and upskill and inspire them to progress to director level. Participants will receive training in key areas, such as working with boards and leading multi-professional teams, through a series of 1-2-1 mentoring sessions.The programme has proved very popular; in fact, there's just one space left for our first cohort, which will start in January 2024. If you'd like the chance to be part of it, please register your interest via info@supportive.care.

Accessing telephone advice at short notice

You may be aware that we are able to offer telephone advice cover outside of your usual contract, even at short notice. Here are a few pointers to help you make the most of this service:

  • To arrange your additional cover, please email info@supportive.care, so we can schedule you in with one of our consultants.
  • For board rounds, MDTs or case review meetings, we would ask for as much notice as possible – ideally no less than two weeks – so we can put robust plans in place.
  • If you require urgent, same-day cover, please follow up your email with a call to Head Office (0161 413 8230), to help us respond as swiftly as possible.

If you need to speak to a member of the SCUK team about this, or anything else, during working hours (9am-5pm), please contact Head Office on the number above. In an emergency outside these hours, please contact 02076 663 413, and ask to be put through to the escalation team.

Sharing insights, ideas and experiences

As our family of consultants continues to grow, it's more important than ever that we make time to meet and work together. So earlier this month, we all went to the Haymarket Hotel in Westminster for our annual Consultant Connect.

This event creates the time and space for the SCUK team to gather our ideas, share our experiences, and refine our ways of working. It also helps us make sure we're taking a consistent approach, so that our partners receive the same, seamless support from us, whoever they're interacting with.As well as delivering training on some new software, we focused on refining some key processes, such as standardising our reporting and documentation for board rounds and MDTs. We also enjoyed having the time to swap stories and just be together as a team.

Lucie Summerfield and Pauline Staley

Lucie and Pauline are two award-winning Clinical Nurse Specialists, who pioneered the UK's first nurse-led enhanced supportive care model at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust. In addition to their NHS work, they spend part of their week with SCUK, supporting Vitality patients who have been diagnosed with incurable cancer.  What's different about enhanced supportive care?"In the past, palliative care was only offered towards the end of a patient's life, or for patients with particularly complex needs. Our enhanced supportive care model is for anyone with non-curative cancer, and is available at the point of diagnosis."Why is it so important?"These days, patients with incurable cancer may live for a long time after their diagnosis – but they still need some extra help to make the most of the time they have left. We're there to give them that help, and to bridge the gap between oncology and palliative care, so they feel supported throughout their entire cancer experience."What does it involve?"That depends on the patient! It can be medical, physical, social or spiritual; anything from financial planning and helping them explore what services they're entitled to, to facilitating tricky conversations with their loved ones. Sometimes seemingly small things, like getting a blue badge, can make a real difference."How do patients respond?"We have lovely feedback from our patients, and from their families too; they are very vocal about how much they appreciate our support. One recently said, "I have spoken to so many people and this is the first time I feel listened to." What do you enjoy most about your job?"People often say to us that working with terminal patients must be sad, but the opposite is true. It's an honour to be able to help patients and their families at such a vulnerable time, and knowing that the support we're giving them is helping them live out their lives as best they can is so rewarding. There's nothing we would rather be doing."