Counties Manukau has the fastest growing older population in New Zealand, with approximately 2,500 deaths per year.  Of that number 1000 people die in Hospital.  What’s interesting is that 67% would prefer to die in their own home.  The reality is only 18% get that opportunity.

Hospital care is often focussed on curative treatments and saving life but it is important that we are also expert at recognising when the focus needs to become supportive rather than curative, and that we provide high quality care at every stage of a person’s illness, including end of life care.

It has been identified that the greatest challenges for staff providing end of life care relate to our discomfort in initiating conversations about this with patients and carers. 

The launch of the AMBER Care Bundle on Ward 32 and Ward 8 will provide a systematic approach for health professionals who are uncertain whether a patient may recover and are concerned they may only have a few months to live. 

The tool combines identification questions, clinical interventions and systematic monitoring that can be applied in adult ward settings.

“AMBER Care does not mean we are stopping active treatment,” says Andrew Connolly, Head of General Surgery. “It means the outcome is unclear even with active/aggressive treatment.   It is not for palliative patients, but it may be that a patient becomes palliative as their clinical situation becomes more clear.”

“For people facing an uncertain recovery while in Hospital, it’s about having a conversation about what treatment and care they would prefer, should the worst happen,” says Phillip Balmer, Director Hospital Services.  “The time to think about this is not when patients are on their deathbed but ahead of time in the zone we call uncertain recovery.”

“Early identification of people who may have end of life care needs will help us to provide safe, high quality end-of-life care,” says Gloria Johnson, Chief Medical Officer.  “The tool encourages clinicians, patients and families to talk openly about putting plans in place in preparing for end of life.”

 “The AMBER Care Bundle is a great tool for raising the issue of end of life care, sooner rather than later,” says Rochelle Avatea, Charge Nurse Ward 8.

“It also gives our staff more confidence about when to approach medical colleagues to discuss treatment plans,” says Tarani Lave, Charge Nurse Ward 32.

For more information about the AMBER

Less than a minute to read Nicholas Harvey

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