20 June 2023

­­Octavia’s care team wins a Workplace Development Award for end of life care

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Octavia’s Care Team has won a London Housing with Care Workforce Development Award. The award recognises our work with St Christopher’s CARE (St Christopher’s Centre for Awareness and Response to End of Life), in creating a toolkit for care staff to help them promote a better quality of life for people towards the end of their life.

The Better Lives, Better Endings toolkit was co-designed by Octavia and St Christopher’s and uses available resources to enable care teams to be more confident with dealing with end-of-life care and with supporting residents to ensure their wishes and preferences are met.

It helps address challenges extra care providers face with communicating, understanding, sharing, documenting and advocating for individuals’ wishes about how they want to live their later years, in addition to death, dying and loss.

The Housing with Care Workforce Development Award recognises ‘exceptional innovation and exemplary training that encourage and inspire staff to deliver outstanding results’.

Judges commended Octavia for developing a toolkit ‘which enables staff to better approach and understand end of life care. This training has empowered staff with the skills necessary to deal with this tough subject. Such training takes the stigma away from a topic that is incredibly difficult’.

The toolkit has been embedded into professional care training at Octavia for more than a year and the learnings and resource have been shared across the sector.

Lianne Joy, Octavia Head of Care Quality said: “We looked at residents living in extra care and found an increasing complexity of needs and an increase of those dying whilst resident, instead of moving on to higher need provision. Colleagues fed back about experiences of supporting people as they deteriorated at end of life whilst at home and their need to be heard by professionals, as well as their own concerns around dealing with grief of losing someone they have worked with for some time.

“We recognised the need to empower care staff to bring about a culture change. They needed to recognise that anyone could have a key conversation, capture it, and respond sensitively. This project was about creating useful tools and an understanding of key relationships and how these can work together.”

“As a result of this work, our residents are starting to talk more of their hopes and wants for their future care and support and staff are beginning to feel empowered; memorial spaces are being created in our extra care schemes and staff have fed back that it has supported them in their personal lives as well. Our aim is to reflect on what we have achieved with this project and continue to evolve our services to meet the needs of residents.

Neil McCarthy, Octavia Assistant Director of Care, Support and Communities said: “Our work with St Christopher's has not only impacted Octavia staff, residents and their families, but has also been shared nationally as a toolkit for other housing with care providers. It’s helping to rethink how we can really help shape people's experiences in the latter part of their lives. It was co-produced with our partners at St Christopher’s and the Housing LIN, and we are very grateful to them for their help and support.” 

Liz Bryan, St Christopher’s CARE said: “It’s wonderful to see that this vital toolkit has been recognised in this way.  Our partnership with Octavia began several years ago. We were approached when senior care staff realised that to provide the highest quality of care they would need to address the challenges of acknowledging end of life issues. Inevitably residents will grow older, experience life-limiting conditions and become increasingly frail. Most, when asked, want to remain in their home, not go to hospital or be moved to other residential care. Providing personalised care for people at the end of life requires open and sensitive conversations. It also requires a level of confidence in staff that empowers them to advocate for residents with other professionals. The Better Lives, Better Endings toolkit resulted from insights gained from hours of learning together, reflection and staff discussion.”  

 Jeremy Porteus, CEO of the Housing Learning and Improvement Network (LIN) said: "This is an extremely well-deserved award. When we talk about housing with care it is often with reference to a move to extra care housing, to help someone have greater independence in later life. Better Lives, Better Endings helps care professionals working in this area deal with tricky issues relating to dying and death, head on. It offers sensitive, professional advice and information on compassionate, person-centred extra care for residents, to enable them lead dignified lives right to end of life. "

More information

The Better Lives, Better Endings toolkit is available on the Octavia website: Access the Better Lives, Better Endings toolkit

The toolkit can also be access from the St Christopher's website

About St Christopher’s CARE - St Christopher’s Centre for Awareness and Response to End of Life is the organisation’s state-of-the-art Education Centre. It delivers training and education to professionals and the wider public, both locally and globally. St Christopher’s CARE strongly believes that everyone should have access to the best care at the end of their lives and through a blend of expert practice, education and research they work with people across the world to improve and develop hospice care.

About the Housing LIN - The Housing Learning and Improvement Network (LIN) is a specialist agency with 20,000 members that champions the housing and care needs of older people in the UK. It provides a crucial link to national policy development, in particular NHS England's Anticipatory Care Framework. The Housing LIN hosts educational HAPPI Hour webinars to promote learning and best practice for care professionals (see https://www.housinglin.org.uk/Events/). It also promotes professional resources for domiciliary end-of-life care at: https://www.housinglin.org.uk/Topics/browse/CareAndSupportatHome/EndOfLifeCare/