Dying well at home: the case for integrated working
Practice example 1: Carers’ Befriending Service, Central Lancashire Cancer Partnership Group
The Carers’ Befriending Service is a free service developed by hospice social workers and provided by trained volunteers who sit with a cared-for person in the carer’s absence. The cared-for person must have a palliative diagnosis, be mainly housebound and socially isolated. The volunteer can sit with the cared-for person in their own home for up to four hours a week.
The service aims to:
- promote social, leisure and learning opportunities for carers, enhancing the health and wellbeing of carers
- promote improved quality of life for the carer, thereby preventing breakdown
- provide reassurance to the carer in the knowledge that a trained volunteer is with the service user.
Implementation of the service included:
- development of criteria, a referral form and risk assessment tool
- an ‘interest’ checklist to match potential befrienders with a cared-for person
- advertising for potential befriending volunteers who completed application forms and Criminal Records Bureau checks
- a three-day training programme for six potential befrienders.
The service started in September 2011.
Carers have taken breaks to attend medical appointments, relax or shop. Befrienders have provided psychological support to the cared-for person and their carer. The scheme links the cared-for person, their carer and the Family Support Team at the hospice. Befrienders have sat with the cared-for person in the final days of life and at death. Others have supported cared-for people when admitted as inpatients.
Cheryl Scott, Family Support Manager, St Catherine’s Hospital.