The Royal Papworth Hospital supportive and palliative care team supports patients who have long term conditions, life threatening illness, or are experiencing distress related to their health.

The team focuses on improving quality of life. Physical symptoms e.g. pain, nausea, insomnia (difficulty sleeping) can be addressed together with other aspects of a patient’s life which are affected by the uncertainty of incurable disease. Working with not only physical symptoms but also spiritual, social, financial and psychological issues is described as ‘holistic’ care.
The team work in all areas of the hospital, offering support and advice. They may talk directly with patients and carers, or they may discuss aspects of care and management with the patient’s own medical team.

Patients and/or carers can be seen during an inpatient stay, an outpatient visit or on occasions by telephone assessment. After discharge, if further support is needed, the team would attempt to arrange appropriate care from the patient’s local specialist palliative care services.

The team recognise the importance of addressing all issues affecting a patient’s quality of life, and therefore discuss patients referred to them at a weekly multidisciplinary meeting. Considerable time is also spent in discussing patients with their hospital team, negotiating how best to support all involved. Outside the hospital the team link with other healthcare professionals who may support the care of Papworth Hospital patients, e.g.  GPs, heart failure nurses, respiratory nurse specialists.

Key terms and definitions

Supportive care is an ‘umbrella’ term for all services that may be required to support people with life threatening illness. It is not a response to a particular disease or its stage, but is based on the assumption that people have needs for supportive care from the time that the possibility of a life-threatening condition is raised.

Palliative care is the active holistic care of patients with advanced, progressive illness. Management of pain and other symptoms and provision of psychological, social and spiritual support is paramount. The goal of palliative care is achievement of the best quality of life for patients and their families. Many aspects of palliative care are also applicable earlier in the course of the illness in conjunction with other treatments.

End-of-life care is care that helps all those with advanced, progressive, incurable illness to live as well as possible. It enables the supportive and palliative care needs of both patient and family to be identified and met throughout the last phase of life and into bereavement. It includes management of pain and other symptoms and provision of psychological, social, spiritual and practical support.

How referrals are made

Any healthcare professional can refer a patient to the supportive and palliative care team. Patients and families may also request support for themselves if needed.

The referring healthcare professional must ensure that the patient and the consultant whose care they are under agree to the referral.

Some commonly occurring issues which may prompt referral are:

  • Issues of loss (e.g. body image, role etc)
  • Pain
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Bowel or bladder problems
  • Poor sleep
  • Breathlessness/cough
  • Anxiety/panic
  • Depression
  • Oral problems
  • Lethargy/fatigue
  • Receiving bad news
  • Planning for discharge in a complex palliative care situation
  • Spiritual or religious issues
  • Bereavement issues

When making a referral from outside the hospital the following information will be needed:

  • Name of patient
  • Hospital and hospital number (if available)
  • NHS number
  • DOB
  • Gender
  • Patient address and telephone number
  • GP address and telephone number
  • Next-of-kin
  • Patient's occupation
  • Patients' living arrangements (type of housing etc.)
  • Name of patient's consultant
  • Details of any other professional involved in the patient’s care
  • Diagnosis
  • Reason for referral
  • Urgency of referral

The team

The team can be contacted Monday to Sunday within office hours. A voicemail service operates outside office hours.

Secretary direct dial: 01223 638747