What it takes to offer a new service: blood transfusions

There is no “normal” way of working in a hospice – no day is ever the same, and we are constantly striving to improve and give our patients the best comfort and care possible. This includes being incredibly supportive of the progression and learning development of our staff. This is what it takes to offer a new service to our patients…

We are continually reviewing our services: asking our staff and service users how they feel we can advance. It was recently proposed that offering blood transfusions to patients on-site could help to ease the unnecessary discomfort of patients having to travel to and from hospitals for routine transfusions.

Blood transfusions are often used to help with the symptom management of patients with blood that may be missing components, such as those with low Haemoglobin levels. These low levels can often cause breathlessness and fatigue, particularly in palliative patients such as those that come to us for end of life care. Delivering a transfusion enables more oxygen to be carried around the body to the patient’s tissues and organs, improving energy and respiratory ability. Having the facilities and knowledge to give blood transfusions means our nurses can do so for our patients in the comfort and privacy of their own rooms at the hospice.

In order to begin to offer this treatment we had to seek funding for the necessary equipment and training required. Our team spent time finding and applying to relevant, available bids that could help us in ensuring we offer safe, high quality blood transfusions.

We were successful in securing a funding bid; receiving the financial help of Truemark Trust, Leeds Building Society and Make a Difference Locally (MADL), to cover the cost of a blood infusion pump. This equipment enables the safe administration of blood and other fluids.
The required blood is stored at St Hugh’s Hospital ready for our hospice nurses to complete the transfusion. So, processes were put in place for the delivery of the blood to the hospice as only appropriately trained drivers can make the delivery.

Prior to this all policies and procedures and other documentations relating to blood transfusion had to be implemented. Our Lead Nurse, Liz Braithwaite met with the Transfusion Specialist Practitioner and these were completed and approved.

Training competencies were adapted and applied to ensure that all of our staff involved in the procedure – from collection through to administration of the blood -were capable. Our nurses also underwent blood transfusion training and had to be up-to-date with their basic life support and anaphylaxis training.

Liz and a Registered Nurse, Jodie had previously been Transfusion Trainers at Grimsby Hospital, and so their competency was assessed to allow them to continue as trainers at St Andrew’s. They were allocated to manage the patient throughout the transfusion process as well.

This extra level of care has been warmly welcomed since it was introduced at the beginning of this year. Lynn Andrews, a relation of the first patient to receive a blood transfusion at St Andrew’s Hospice stated: “I want to say a big thanks from me and my family for the fantastic care my father-in-law has received over the last few weeks. He thinks you are all amazing including the catering, cleaners and nursing teams. He does not praise often but he was in really poor condition when he came into the hospice and credits you all with the fact that he has now gone home. Huge thanks to you all.”

We are very proud that our clinical team are now able to perform the blood transfusions. Thank you to everyone that has enabled this to happen for our patients. This is what it takes to give our patients the best comfort and care.

If you would like to help us to continue to develop our services please consider making a donation.


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