Staff from nursing homes to be trained in end-of-life care

SCORES of staff from North Yorkshire's nursing homes are to be given additional training in caring for terminally-ill patients as demand for services soars across the county.

A joint venture between St Catherine's Hospice in Scarborough, St Leonard's Hospice in York and St Michael's in Harrogate will see 200 nurses and healthcare assistants take part in the training courses during the next 12 months.

The three hospices will work together to deliver specialist education, training and development to enhance the care and support available to people living their final days in nursing homes.

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The Yorkshire Post revealed last month that the Harrogate-based St Michael's charity had warned that it faces increasing demand for its services amid dramatic rises in the number of elderly people in the county.

The chief executive of St Michael's, Tony Collins, said: "Sharing the specialist knowledge held within the hospice movement and developing these skills within nursing home settings will enable more people to get the end-of-life care they want and need.

"Only by all health and social care organisations working in collaboration will we rise to the challenge to provide quality end-of-life care for all, regardless of the place from which a person is receiving care or the illness they are living with."

The St Michael's charity has seen a dramatic rise in demand for its services across the Harrogate area amid an ongoing trend towards an ageing population in the county.

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A strategy was launched three years ago to expand the charity's services with the aim of doubling the number of people it helps by 2012.

In North Yorkshire, it is estimated there will be 50 per cent more people aged over the age of 65 living in the county by 2020 – a quarter of the total population. In 2001, the over-65s represented only 18 per cent.

The new training initiative is being supported by the primary care trust, NHS North Yorkshire and York, and the Yorkshire Cancer Network.

The need for specialist training emerged following an audit by NHS North Yorkshire and York of nursing homes across the county.