Sara Burns, co-founder and director of Triangle and one of the authors of the Outcomes Stars reflects on her attendance at Hospice UK’s annual conference in Liverpool.
We recently launched the Preparation Star – developed to empower patients to share what is important to them when approaching end of life. We were invited by Hospice UK to exhibit a poster at their two-day annual conference, to demonstrate the development and design behind the publication of this new Outcomes Star.
Conversations had at the conference
I spent a large proportion of my time talking to delegates and learning more about them, their work and experiences. End of life is a conversation that many people struggle with or avoid altogether, so it was refreshing to meet people at the conference who were open to talking about this topic in a straightforward, confident and relaxed way.
I shared detail on the Preparation Star and the background as to how it became to be: I was personally pleased when North London Hospice approached us three years ago to develop a Star for end of life. The Department of Health and Social Care’s guidance, based on research, recommends and stresses the importance of a conversation about end of life. Outcomes Stars enable and support good conversations – which support better outcomes – and I felt honoured to be developing a version for what is often the most difficult conversation there is.
86% of people helped by hospices receive ‘hospice at home’1
I had previously thought of a hospice as a safe and relatively pleasant place where people went to die, until learning of this fact. I explained this to conference delegates and that most hospice support is now provided in day centres and the community. This is where the Preparation Star is best used as a tool to enable patients to talk about their wishes and develop a plan with 6-12 months still to live, maybe longer, and provide services with a measure of patient well-being outcomes. I also explained to delegates that it was clear from our pilot that the Preparation Star isn’t suitable for hospice inpatient services – most patients were too close to end of life to use the Star.
Wider conversations about Outcomes StarTM
I met people who already knew the Outcomes Star from previous roles, including in homelessness and family support, and were excited to see one designed for end of life. Others new to the concept could easily recognise it as a visually engaging way to support a conversation and for managers to get some much-needed information on service outcomes. Although I saw some other excellent tools to start a conversation, the Star fills a gap in focusing a conversation to give a picture of how things are, to support planning, and measure outcomes.
How to find out more about the Preparation Star:
You can download a preview version of the Preparation Star and explore the nine areas covered in conversation. To talk to Sara Burns or another member of the Triangle team, call 020 7272 8765 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Hospice UK conference presentation