Live Your Life: a person-led, hybrid model of support
How Strathcarron hospice has used Goal Setting and Asset-Based Community Development approaches alongside digital technology, to empower and support people living with a life-limiting illness.
During the COVD-19 pandemic, Strathcarron hospice had to close its Day Care service and clinical staff were redeployed to support the coronavirus response. Although the chaplain and social worker kept in contact with Day Care patients each week, they were not able to provide the clinical support that some people needed.
Following lockdown, it became clear that the Day Care service could not re-open in the same way. The team consulted with patients to ascertain their needs, and developed a self-referral support line: Live Your Life.
Instead of waiting for a phone call from the hospice once a week, people living with a life-limiting illness can now contact Live Your Life whenever they need to. No referral is needed and the service is flexible. This means people can call, email, visit the team in person or get support locally to them.
The Live Your Life team includes nurses, creative arts facilitators, complementary therapists, community-based connectors and volunteers, who are all trained to provide people with practical, clinical and emotional support and advice. They follow a person-led model, supporting individuals to reach their personal goals rather than prioritising clinical need.
A blended approach
The hospice was already employing an Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) approach, identifying what is important to a community and bringing people together to share their strengths and take appropriate action.
In Live Your Life, the ABCD approach is used alongside a Goal Setting and Action-Planning model. The team has a ‘Good Life Conversation’ with each person, to find out:
- what matters most to them
- what they want to achieve
- what support they currently have
- what support can be accessed from the community
- what support only the hospice can provide.
The team empowers each person to access the support that is right for them, by making sure they are fully informed and helping them identify what they need to do to reach their goals.
How it works: Donald's story
Donald is living with advanced Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). During the lockdowns, he was unable to stay active and his physical condition and confidence deteriorated. Donald’s daughter was given a Live Your Life leaflet by his hospital consultant and called the support line.
The team used the ‘Good Life Conversation’ model to identify four goals important to Donald, which would help him improve his daily life.
The goals are:
- The hospice’s rehabilitation/Occupational Therapist & Physiotherapy team carried out an in-person home assessment, focusing on breathlessness interventions, maximising mobility and use of equipment.
- Donald was referred for a stair lift to facilitate safer and increased access at home.
- Donald attended online guided relaxation sessions to improve sleep.
- Strathcarron’s Patient and Family Support team signposted Donald and his wife to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. They followed this up and received the advice that they needed.
- Donald was introduced to two online groups
- Donald and his wife attend a monthly, in-person group that meets at a local Garden Centre. Donald shared his talent for photography by taking photos of the group and sharing them with the other members.
- Mary attends social groups alongside Donald. She also joined the hospice’s Mindfulness for Carers remote sessions.
- The Live Your Life staff check in with Mary when she answers the phone.
The Live Your Life team have regular contact with Donald and Mary, providing consistent support. Donald is able to use in-person and online services that help him work towards his goals. He engages in discussions about end of life care as his condition deteriorates and knows the offer for additional support is there when he is ready.
Using a more flexible model of delivery that combines online and in-person services, has enabled Strathcarron to support more people. It enables each individual to access support on their own terms.
People who are bed-bound or no longer mobile, those who do not have transport, and people who work during the day, were unable to get to the original Day Care service. However they can access online services more easily.
The team has found there is now a more equal balance between people affected by cancer and those with non-cancerous conditions who are accessing the service.
Live Your Life is accessible to people at different stages of illness. By working with people at an earlier stage, the hospice is able to build a trusting relationship and help people access appropriate support as their needs change.
Many of the calls received by Live Your Life are from carers and family members, who were previously unable to access support from the Day Care service. The team has delivered several Mindfulness for Carers courses in response.
Tips and advice
Community connection and good social relationships are more effective at helping people live longer, happier lives than any other intervention.