The Royal College of Nursing, the National Nurse Consultant Group (Palliative Care) and the National End of Life Care Programme are among 22 organisations who have signed a consensus statement in support of the Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient (LCP)
The statement aims to provide clarity about what the Liverpool care pathway is – and what it is not. Organisations from across health and social care have pledged their support, including professional bodies, third sector organisations, disease specific charities, and organisations representing care homes, hospices, social care and palliative care specialists.
The LCP is a model of care which enables healthcare professionals to focus on care in the last hours or days of life when a death is expected. It is tailored to the person’s individual needs and includes consideration of their physical, social, spiritual and psychological needs.
It has been suggested as a model of good practice by:
- successive national policy frameworks (DH, 2003 and 2006)
- the end of life care strategy (DH, 2008)
- quality markers and measures for end of life care (DH, 2009)
- General Medical Council guidance (2010)
- NICE quality standard for end of life care for adults (2011).
Making the facts of death clear
According to the consensus statement, misconceptions and often inaccurate information about the Liverpool Care Pathway published in the media risk detracting from the substantial benefits it can bring to people who are dying and to their families.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, Earl Howe, is quoted in the statement as saying: “The Liverpool Care Pathway has sometimes been accused of being a way of withholding treatment, including hydration and nutrition. That is not the case. It is used to prevent dying patients from having the distress of receiving treatment or tests that are not beneficial and that may in fact cause harm rather than good.”
Sharing best practice
Claire Henry, Director of the National End of Life Care programme, said: “We felt it was important to show support for the use of the Liverpool Care Pathway. It is a recommended model of good practice and it has improved care for people in the last days or hours of life.
“The LCP must be used correctly – training, skilled assessment, regular review of a person’s condition, effective communication with family members and participation in audit are all essential to its optimal use.”
Amanda Cheesley, RCN long-term conditions adviser, said: “Nurses in all practice areas are in a privileged position in providing care and support for people at the end of their lives.”
“They need to understand how and when to use the Liverpool Care Pathway to ensure that the last few days of a person’s life are the best that they can be and that families are supported to be part of the process so that their lasting memories are of a positive experience.”
To find out more and read the consensus statement, click here.