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Guest Blog: Delivering Compassionate Care - Sue Hogston, Head of Quality and Nurse Lead - Sue Ryder

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At Sue Ryder, we believe that quality of care is the responsibility of everyone working in healthcare. We all have a part to play to ensure the unacceptable experiences of the patients at Mid-Staffordshire Hospital do not happen again.

We welcomed the Francis Report as an opportunity to ask ourselves what more we could do to uphold the very highest standards of care and to look at the ways we can lead discussion and share best practice with other charities and NHS hospitals - to reduce the risk of such poor care from happening again.

We held a series of workshops and discussions on the report across the country, engaging with frontline staff in all of our care settings to ensure understanding of its recommendations, and identify the areas where we could strengthen what we do, and to re-connect with the values that drive delivery of the compassionate care Sue Ryder is known for. A real cross-section of health and social care staff from our hospices and care centres were involved, including senior management, student and frontline nurses and care staff.

Whilst reviewing the 290 recommendations in the Francis Report, we were really proud to find that we are already meeting many of them across our hospices and care centres, including:

  • Offering 24 hour visiting hours at our hospices, so family and friends can visit when it suits them, rather than at times that are convenient for our staff.
  • A comprehensive complaints systems, so we deal with concerns before they are able to escalate into major problems.
  • Support and training for our nurses to become leaders within the organisation.
  • A mealtime standard which recognises that the way food and drink is provided is key to ensuring good care.
  • Maintaining a high staff to patient ratio, allowing our nurses time to spend with families and patients to answer any questions they may have.

The key areas of discussion that we focussed on during the workshops were: management of complaints, recruitment for values, service user and patient feedback in appraisals, ‘duty of candour’ - supporting a culture of openness, and nursing leadership. Out of discussions, an action plan has been developed outlining what needs to be done on a national level at Sue Ryder, as well as locally in each of our centres, to continue to deliver the excellent standards of care we pride ourselves on.

It has made me so proud to see the engagement and commitment to taking forward actions coming out of the sessions from everybody involved. Our frontline staff are passionate about excellence in care delivery, and our healthcare leadership team have years of experience in managing and delivering person-centred care.

Following the recommendation in the Francis Report that Department of Health officials spend time on the frontline visiting healthcare services, we were delighted to invite senior civil servants to spend time with us in our hospices. We worked hard to ensure these visits were as useful and insightful as possible. The feedback from the senior civil servants that took part was extremely positive and included comments, ‘the degree of compassion and consideration shown was exceptional’, ‘I was struck by the depth of knowledge about each individual’, ‘it was a really uplifting and positive environment’ and the ‘culture of the hospice is lived and breathed by all the staff’.

One of the key learning points I took from these visits is just how important it is to invite people into our hospices to see firsthand the care provided in order to improve understanding of hospices. As one of the largest providers of end of life care in the UK, we must, and will continue to, do more to increase awareness of the end of life care we provide, and why it matters.

We hope that learning from Department of Health visits will be used to ensure that care improves across the NHS, and we will continue to offer placements of this type, extended to our neurological care centres.

We look forward to a continued involvement with the Department of Health helping the NHS and care organisations positively respond to the findings and recommendations of the Francis Report, working together to safeguard and care for vulnerable people

For further information on Sue Ryder’s response to the Francis report visit:



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