Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Improving end of life care in your pharmacy

by Darrell Baker Chair of the Daffodil Standards steering group

Darrell BakerI’ve spent many years working to improve care for patients approaching the end of their life and there’s still much to be done. Understanding what quality end of life care looks and feels like for an individual, and getting it right for them and those who care for them, really matters. That’s why I’m so pleased that community pharmacy teams across the UK can now sign up to the Daffodil Standards for palliative and end of life care to help improve outcomes for patients.

What are the Daffodil Standards?

The Daffodil Standards are the result of a partnership between RPS and the UK’s leading end of life charity Marie Curie, whose iconic image is the daffodil.

The Standards identify and build on the good practice already going on in community pharmacies and support the delivery of compassionate, holistic care to patients, their carers and wider family and friends network.

Community pharmacies will be able to display the ‘daffodil mark’ as a sign of their commitment to improving care they provide as they work through the self-assessment and actions for the Standards.

Getting the basics right

Medicines have a key role to play in facilitating quality of care. The fundamental principles of effective pain management and symptom control are the bedrock of end of life care and aren’t rocket science. 

The pharmacy team can help ensure safe and timely access to medicines for symptom relief, provide reassurance in the face of fear and anxiety about the effectiveness and availability of pain medication, and empower patients and carers to articulate what matters most to them at what can be a very challenging time.

Effective communication and support across all care settings is vital. Pharmacy teams need to be part of the multi-professional team around the patient, with access to clinical information about them. That way, we can respect their wishes and support effective implementation of treatment and symptom management plans.

Compassionate community pharmacy teams

With a growing number of patients with complex medical needs expressing a preference to be cared for at home, we must ensure they have access to consistent, quality care in the community, wherever they live. I’ve blogged before about compassionate communities and strongly believe that community pharmacies would make fantastic “compassion hubs” as part of their role in promoting health and wellbeing, encouraging conversations about palliative care, death and bereavement, normalising taboo subjects and building community resilience.

The Daffodil Standards provide a roadmap to help community pharmacy teams deliver the best possible care on a range of issues, including symptom management, communication with patients and their carers, and collaboration with other healthcare professionals.

We all have a responsibility to ensure ourselves, our staff and our systems are up to the challenge. Nowhere is this improvement more important than at the end of life.

“Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end.” (Atul Gawande)

Find out more about the Daffodil Standards. Sign up and we'll send you a welcome pack and you can also get access to key updates, top tips, free webinars and opportunities to share learning within a practice community.


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