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£1.1million funding delivers more staff and care for palliative care patients in Swansea

PICTURED: (from left) Dr Gwenllian Davies, Consultant in Palliative Care; Melissa Birchall, Matron of the Specialist Palliative Care Service and Tracey Rowe, Service Manager for the service.

More palliative care patients in Swansea Bay are receiving enhanced care and support following further staff recruitment thanks to a major financial commitment from Tŷ Olwen Trust.

In its biggest single financial donation since its inception in 1981, the trust is funding just over £1.1million in the Specialist Palliative Care Service over the course of three years.

It has helped recruit 11 staff in full and part-time roles, along with two new positions to the service – a social worker and rehabilitation assistant – with five nurses and four health care support workers also newly employed.

Tŷ Olwen, where the palliative care service is based in Morriston Hospital, had 10 inpatients prior to the investment. That has since increased to 12 but will rise to 14 once the social worker vacancy is filled.

The new investment gives the service more staff resources and skills to support patients who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.

The funding also impacts staff in terms of reducing stress and increasing morale as it helps them give the right amount of care to their patients.

Melissa Birchall, Matron of the Specialist Palliative Care Service, said: “This financial contribution from Tŷ Olwen Trust is hugely appreciated by everyone in Tŷ Olwen as it will benefit our service, patients and staff.

“Prior to Covid we had 14 inpatients, but the unit closed during Covid and then reopened with eight beds because of distancing and restrictions.

PICTURED: Carol Richards, staff nurse at Tŷ Olwen and health care support worker Emma Lauren Jones are among the new recruits.

“When Covid rules allowed, we went up to 10 and found we were able to meet the complex needs of patients much better.

“We then looked into the importance of maintaining the ratio of staff to patients when our patient numbers increased. If we went up in terms of patients in beds then we needed to increase our amount of staff, but that obviously required considerable finances to achieve that.”

The recruitment of new staff, in particular the social worker and rehabilitation assistant positions, help strengthen the service’s multi-disciplinary approach.

Melissa added: “The variation in the new roles really helps us deliver the full complement of holistic palliative care which is required within a specialist palliative care team.

“The social worker and rehabilitation assistant roles are new to us at Tŷ Olwen, and they bring extra qualities to our multi-disciplinary approach.

“The rehabilitation assistant role is one which people don’t tend to associate with specialist palliative care. We support people to have the best quality of life regardless of where they are on their disease journey.

“Some patients are discharged. We want people to be able to go home and be able to stay home if they want and there’s a better chance they can do that if they’ve received some rehabilitation.

“Having a social worker will get patients home in a timelier manner and help plan for that discharge much more effectively.

PICTURED: (Front row, from left) Tracey Rowe; Tŷ Olwen Trust chair Helen Murray MBE and Dr Gwenllian Davies. (Back row, from left) Tŷ Olwen Trust’s Stuart Roberts, Tracy Hancock, Gareth Lewis and Paul Murray.

“We’re so thankful for the financial commitment from Tŷ Olwen Trust – this will affect people waiting to come into Tŷ Olwen, and those wanting to get home.”

While patients are receiving enhanced care and support thanks to the trust’s investment, it is also hoped to positively impact staff morale and reducing stress.

Tracey Rowe, Service Manager for the Specialist Palliative Care Service, said: “Tŷ Olwen Trust want the very best care for people in the Swansea Bay area who require specialist palliative care. They are also very focused on supporting staff and staff morale too.

“The quality and safety of care to patients is paramount, and equally so is the health and wellbeing of staff.

“Staff reported they feel that they have a real obligation to give the absolute best standard of care. In a service which is a centre of excellence for providing specialist palliative care and end of life care, we need to have the correct staffing to do that.

“If staff can’t give the care they want to give then that causes moral distress, which has significant repercussions on their wellbeing.

Tŷ Olwen Trust chair, Helen Murray MBE, said: “Since its inception in 1981, the Tŷ Olwen Trust has contributed over £18million to support the Tŷ Olwen Service to cover equipment, education, staff salaries and all the extras for the comfort of our patients and their families that make Tŷ Olwen the special place it is.

“The Tŷ Olwen Trust’s regular ongoing annual financial support remains at £500,000.

“At the centre of all the work done by the Tŷ Olwen Trust are the patients and families that Tŷ Olwen supports with the highest possible excellent professional care, whether in Tŷ Olwen, the main hospitals or their own home.

“The trustees are incredibly proud of the Tŷ Olwen service and all its staff and have fully supported the service for 42 years and will continue to do so.

“All our staff and volunteers are exceptional people who give so much care, support and love to our patients and their families.

“We are aware that this level of giving can put them under pressure and we as a Trust are fully committed to supporting them with wellbeing initiatives which include counselling, a time out space and social events.”