To support loved ones at home for a longer period of time, Somerset offers care training

Sarah Bow and partner Gary

People are learning the skills necessary to care for loved ones in their final days at home who have serious illnesses thanks to a training program.

Gary White, a resident of Somerset and Sarah Bow's partner, was 55 years old when he received a motor neurone disease diagnosis in 2021.

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

Years of happy times lay ahead of us, but then everything abruptly changed, she recalled.

As Mr. White's condition worsened, members of the Somerset NHS Foundation Trust social care training team paid the couple's home visits to offer Ms. Bow advice and support. He had never been ill before, so when it happened, Ms. Bow said, "We were shocked. It was all so new to us.". Because spending time together at home was so important to the two of us, she continued, "I quit my job to take care of him.

The training team
Recently, the social care training team at the Somerset NHS Foundation Trust was recognized nationally for patient safety.

The service was established in November 2021 to give people working in social care free NHS-standard training and competency evaluations in clinical skills.

The program, according to Ms. Bow, 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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