The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Wales launched its palliative and end-of-life care policy at the eighth Wales Medicines Safety Conference, held in Cardiff on 22 November 2018.
The policy’s focus is on ensuring that patients who are approaching the end of their lives can access a full range of pharmacy services, helping to ensure that their death is “as peaceful and symptom-free as possible”.
Taking into account the Welsh government and NHS Wales’s ‘Palliative and end-of-life care delivery plan’, the policy makes several recommendations, including: a call for pharmacists to be embedded in all multidisciplinary teams delivering palliative care; the right for patients to die in a care setting of their choice without any compromise to the level of care they receive; and for the health status of patients on a palliative care register to be automatically shared with the multidisciplinary team, including the sharing of advance care plans with the patient’s community pharmacy.
Around 32,000 people die each year in Wales and around 75% of these people require some form of palliative care. This includes around 100 children who could, the policy document says, benefit from specialised paediatric palliative care.
Jodie Williamson, professional development and engagement lead at RPS Wales, said the Society “firmly believes that these measures will ensure that palliative and end-of-life patients are treated with the care and dignity they deserve”.
The policy also recognises the needs of family, friends and the wider circle of people surrounding a patient nearing the end of life. Speaking at the conference, Idris Baker, Welsh national clinical lead for palliative care, emphasised this aspect with a quote from Dame Cicely Saunders, considered to be one of the founders of hospice care in the UK: “How people die remains in the memory of those who live on.”
RPS Wales’s palliative and end-of-life care policy can be accessed on the RPS website.