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Research published on Trust’s use of e-obs to widen access to end-of-life spiritual care

15th May 2020

The pastoral care team at Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust* is using System C’s CareFlow e-observations to improve access to spiritual support during end-of-life care. 

A research paper on the use of the system was published today in Nursing Times.  The paper was fast tracked for publication to reflect the significance of its findings during the Covid-19 crisis and to share best practice.

CareFlow is used by Mid Essex to identify patients for referral during their end-of-life care and to automatically generate a referral list.  The chaplains use the list to prioritise their ward/department visits, ensuring they offer spiritual support to all those who want it. 

Since implementing the change in practice, the number of patients and families seen by the chaplain team has significantly increased and helped to deliver a consistent service to improve quality of care for patients at the end of their life and for their families. 

The team provided spiritual care to 364 patients/families in 2018-19, an increase of 81% on the previous year. 

The research highlights that one of the priorities of care for the dying person is to make spiritual support available for those who wish to receive it and national audit data[1] suggests access to spiritual care for all dying adults in hospital needs to improve.

Prior to real-time electronic referrals, the chaplaincy team relied on referrals requested by phone from patients, families, staff and others in the community, or on visiting wards themselves to identify patients who wanted spiritual care.

*In April 2020, Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust merged with Basildon & Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to form the Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust.


[1] Royal College of Physicians (2014) National Care of the Dying Audit for Hospitals, RCP. 

Royal College of Physicians (2016) End of Life Care Audit – Dying in Hospital, RCP.

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