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End of life drama wins national award

End of Life drama Homeward Bound won the Partnership Working award at the Patient Experience Network National Awards on March 21.

Homeward Bound was written by Brian Daniels, and was commissioned in 2016 by the National Council for Palliative Care. The play and its accompanying learning materials have been supported by Pancreatic Cancer UK, NHS England, St Giles Hospice and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

The play is based on the experiences of Lesley Goodburn, whose husband Seth died of pancreatic cancer only 33 days after diagnosis. Although Seth received good quality care, he wanted to die at home but a series of issues prevented him from leaving hospital.

Lesley shared her experiences with the NCPC, and then with Brian as he wrote the play. Homeward Bound was created to enable hospital and other staff see how seemingly minor issues can make a huge difference to people’s end of life care, and has been performed over a dozen times at various training and service improvement events.

Earlier this month a DVD version of the play was released, along with training materials developed with Pancreatic Cancer UK, NHS England, St Giles Hospice and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Sarah Bell, head of services at Pancreatic Cancer UK said: “We are delighted to have won this award, together with our partners, for these vital educational resources for healthcare professionals.

“This accolade will help us spread the word far and wide about the value of the resources and the difference which we are confident they will make in helping healthcare professionals provide good, consistent end of life care across the UK.

“Receiving the right support at the end of life can make the world of difference to people with pancreatic cancer and their families, particularly as the vast majority of patients have precious little time. Tragically 80 per cent of patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage, and those patients will on average live for just two to six months.

“We believe patients should be spending this time with their loved ones and saying their goodbyes, rather than struggling to organise end of life care. We would like to say an enormous thank you once again to our wonderful supporter Lesley for sharing her and Seth’s story, to help improve the end of life care which other families affected by this tough cancer receive in the future.”

Claire Henry, chief executive of the National Council for Palliative Care, said “We never forget that at the heart of Homeward Bound is a love story that ended too soon. Without Lesley’s openness and honesty in sharing Seth’s story and her experiences, there would be no Homeward Bound. Thanks to her, and Brian’s skill as a playwright, and the team at NHS England, St Giles and Leeds Teaching Hospitals to develop the training materials, Homeward Bound is already improving end of life care.

“Now that is also available as a DVD, many more staff can learn from Lesley’s experience. First class palliative care is essential, and one way it improves is by learning from when things don’t go as well as they should.”

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