Care training in Somerset to support loved ones in staying at home longer

Sarah Bow and partner Gary

A training program equips participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide end-of-life care at home for loved ones with serious illnesses.

Gary White, a resident of Somerset and Sarah Bow's partner, received his motor neurone disease diagnosis at age 55 in 2021.

Ms. Bow received individualized training from a team from NHS Somerset, enabling the couple to spend the last 13 months of his life together at home.

We were looking forward to many happy years, but then everything abruptly changed, she said.

As Mr. White's condition worsened, the social care training team from the Somerset NHS Foundation Trust paid the couple's home visits to offer Ms. Bow advice and support. According to Ms. Bow, who spoke to BBC Radio Somerset, "He had never been ill before. We were shocked. It was all so new to us.". We valued spending time together at home, so I quit my job to care for him, she continued.

The training team
A recent national honor for patient safety was given to the social care training team at the Somerset NHS Foundation Trust.

The service was established in November 2021 to offer social care workers free NHS-standard training and clinical skill competency evaluations.

Ms. Bow claimed that the program had allowed them to spend more time together engaging in Mr. White's interests.

"Being able to care for him meant we could have so many precious moments before he died," she said.

"He wanted to go to watch Leeds United play, so I drove him to Leeds.  I stopped three times to give him care on route, but we managed it. "We loved visiting West Bay for fish and chips, and although he couldn't eat, he still wanted to do it, so we did it," added Ms Bow.

The training in a variety of skills including like catheters and injections, aims to reduce hospital admissions and improve patient discharge times.

"If we can provide carers, both unpaid and professional, with confidence and competence, they will feel valued, " said Jude Glide, social care training lead.

"This will ensure patients receive the highest quality of care possible," she added.

The team has trained more than 600 people, including patients, families and carers in residential and nursing homes across Somerset.

In August 2022, Mr White was admitted to hospital for the final two weeks of his life but the programme had a big impact on Ms Bow who is now considering using her newfound skills in a full-time role. "I am so glad I was able to support his wishes to stay at home as long as possible," she said.

"I am now seriously thinking about beginning a career as a carer," said Ms Bow.

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