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A new research project has been launched to assess the effectiveness of the “Swan” model of end-of-life and bereavement care and the related “Cygnet” role created in response to Covid-19.
The study has received funding of £100,000 from the Burdett Trust for Nursing and will be led by nurse academic Professor Alison Leary (pictured above) and colleagues from London South Bank University in collaboration with the Northern Care Alliance and University of Manchester.
“We are very privileged to have been given this opportunity to evaluate the impact of such an important service”
The Swan model originated in Greater Manchester hospitals and is considered by some to represent the gold standard of end-of-life care.
Under the initiative, a swan sign is used to make staff aware that a patient is nearing death and that extra attention should be paid to the patient’s needs and the needs of their loved ones.
There is a focus on personalised support for the entire family and going the extra mile to help create positive memories in the patient’s final days.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Northern Care Alliance introduced “Cygnets” to help deliver aspects of the Swan model in care homes and ensure people were not dying alone.
The Cygnets were a non-specialist team of redeployed and temporary staff who were named as such to let people know that it was not their usual area of expertise.
The new study will evaluate the effectiveness of both the Swan and Cygnet models and the potential transferability to other settings.
“For many years I have witnessed the impact through my own and my teams’ experience and observed its transferability”
Professor Leary, principal investigator, said: “We are very privileged to have been given this opportunity to evaluate the impact of such an important service.
“There is only one chance to get end-of-life care right. By understanding how the Swan model works and what impact it has, we can ensure that more people have access to it.”
Dr Laura Green, a palliative care nurse and researcher from University of Manchester who is also working on the study, said evaluating end-of-life and bereavement care was vital in order to develop “compassionate, culturally-sensitive and equitable services across the NHS”.
Creator of the Swan model, Fiona Murphy, director of nursing for end-of-life care at the Northern Care Alliance, said she was “overwhelmed and proud” that the initiative had been chosen for the study.
“For many years I have witnessed the impact through my own and my teams’ experience and observed its transferability,” she added.
“I feel privileged to have been awarded this funding and grateful for the opportunity to value our future services, staff and the people we support through their grief journey.”
The research project will get underway on 21 September this year and will run until October 2021.