St Luke’s Hospice is strengthening its links with care organisations across the city by using the the latest online technology to bring service providers together.
The hospice is a pioneering leader in the development of Project ECHO, an online tele-mentoring network that enables the delivery of training and education from a specialist hub centre to multiple sites.
Through sharing of best practice and case-based learning to manage complexity, Project ECHO develops communities of practice in healthcare settings that may be hard to reach.
The scheme, which utilises the latest video technology, has been successfully linking St Luke’s palliative care expertise to carers across the city for four years.
In February 2017, the St Luke’s Project ECHO team piloted a tailored programme of education to 10 nursing homes across Sheffield, a programme that now extends to providing training to 24 of 42 nursing homes in the city.
And as Coronavirus began to take its hold on Sheffield, it became increasingly clear that Project ECHO could build an even stronger network of support.
“We have adapted ECHO to fit with the current situation, looking at how we can work to provide support through ECHO to care homes, nursing homes and residential homes,” said St Luke’s Senior Sister and Project ECHO Team Lynne Ghasemi.
“Working with health and social care partners from across Sheffield, including GPs, Medical and Nursing Specialists and experts from NHS Sheffield CCG and Sheffield City Council, we are planning to combine the support of Project ECHO with daily virtual clinics to extend access and support to Sheffield Care Homes.
“Our hope is that Project ECHO provides a safe and supportive environment for all these providers to discuss issues arising from Coronavirus and residents’ concerns and how to support the most vulnerable people in the wider community.
“Care homes, of course, are on lock down at the moment so we are having to adapt how we are supporting them all the time.
“But by bringing many different people together, attracting different professions into the forum, we can offer the highest level of advice by pooling our knowledge and experience.”
Project ECHO is also being used to offer care home managers a meeting forum, again providing a platform for sharing experiences and providing answers to shared questions.
The project was initially tested in Sheffield by the team at St Luke’s in collaboration with Health Education England just over four years years ago.
“We have been constantly adapting as part of Project ECHO to meet the needs of Sheffield care homes and we are getting more emails and calls than ever before asking how to become a part of the network,” said Lynne.
“Now we are truly understanding the value of 21st century technology in bringing carers together.
“At St Luke’s we are very proud of the work we are doing as a team to support our colleagues across the city in tacking the complex issues raised by the pandemic.”