Nurses delivering syringe-driver training

Local hospice, Treetops Hospice Care, is helping facilitate vital syringe-driver training for nursing homes and donating surplus PPE.

Fifty-six nursing homes across Southern Derbyshire require training on how to mix end-of-life medication at a patient’s bedside. Previously, these patients have received pre-filled syringes supplied by the hospital, but this service will end in mid-May, bringing it into line with the rest of the country.

The training is being led by Katie Gibbins, Syringe Driver Clinical Facilitator, for Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). Katie is hosted by Treetops which provides nursing care and emotional support for adults with life-limiting conditions such as cancer, motor neurone disease and heart and respiratory conditions.

The training had just started to roll out when the country went into lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Nursing homes subsequently closed to visitors and introduced strict procedures to protect patients and staff.

Our Treetops Facilities Team came to the rescue

Phil Shreeve, Treetops director of clinical services, explained more:

“Although much of the syringe-driver training could be delivered remotely via Skype or Zoom for example, or through videos we’ve created, there is a need for Katie to still go out and give detailed demonstrations for small groups of nursing home staff.

“For nursing homes with a suitable outdoor space or on dry days, the training has been delivered outdoors and at a safe distance. But not all homes have such a facility and so the training is impossible during wet or windy weather.

“Our Treetops Hospice Care Facilities Team came to the rescue. They drive to the nursing home in the Treetops minibus and erect our Treetops gazebo, and put out chairs and a table. Katie can then deliver the training safely and effectively, after which everything is disinfected and packed away, ready for use the next time.”


Really excited to be able to make a positive change to delivering end-of-life care

Katie Gibbins said:

“I was thrilled to join Treetops as I have always had a passion for delivering outstanding palliative care and I was really excited to be able to make a positive change to delivering end-of-life care here in South Derbyshire.

“I cannot thank the team at Treetops enough for setting this up for me. It’s keeping me, the nursing home staff and the patients safe during the COVID crisis as I never need to enter the home itself. I can deliver the training at a safe distance under the gazebo and we all wear PPE during the practical workshop.

We may not be able to add days to life, but we can add life to days

“Long-term, the training means that nursing homes can deliver their own medication direct to patients and so their home becomes a completely secure unit as nothing is being bought in externally from the hospital.

“I’ve already trained 50% of the homes that frequently request pre-filled syringes from the acute services. This means that no syringes have had to be pre-made by the hospital and sent out to these homes during May at all.

“I am so thrilled to support the staff and give them even more confidence in delivering outstanding end-of-life care. The use of medication to control symptoms is so important to me, as we may not be able to add days to life, but we can add life to days”.

In addition to the travelling gazebo, Treetops have been donating surplus PPE to homes as well. Katie said:

Making a huge difference to the nursing homes and boosting morale

“The Treetops team provide me with a hamper to take to the homes every time I visit. I’m taking PPE visors, hand sanitizer, head bands and anything else that has been donated to me or the hospice, and not being used.

“It’s making a huge difference to the nursing homes and boosting morale. I have also been blowing kisses and waving to the residents through the windows – it’s great to see them smile.”

Treetops supports adults with life-limiting conditions, and their families, living in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Treetops services are provided free of charge and last year the hospice supported over 1,800 patients.