AN end-of-life care programme which has been pioneered in Bury and Oldham has received a £100,000 research boost.

Medical experts are set to evaluate the effectiveness of the SWAN initiative, which offers palliative care for patients and bereavement support for families.

Part of the project saw bereavement centres opened at Fairfield General and the Royal Oldham Hospitals three years ago.

Work may have began in clinical settings but aspects of their approach can now be found in county coroner’s offices and police stations.

Fiona Murphy, an assistant nursing director at the Northern Care Alliance, which manages both hospitals, helped to set up the wider scheme.

Now a £100,000 grant has been awarded by the Burdett Trust for Nursing to support studies into how effective the work has been, through the University of Manchester.

Under the SWAN scheme, the Greater Manchester trust set up a non-specialist team, known as ‘Cygnets’ to deliver support to patients in their last hours of life, to prevent the spectre of anyone dying alone on the wards.

This has been especially challenging during the pandemic, with infection control limiting visiting times and opportunities.

Fiona Murphy said: "For many years I have witnessed the impact through my own and my teams experience and observed its transferability.

“I feel privileged to have been awarded this funding and grateful for the opportunity for our future services, staff and the people we support through their grief journey.”

Heather Iles-Smith the alliance’s chief nurse for research, added: “As clinicians it's so important that we not only draw from the evidence base, to inform our practice, but we also add to it when we develop new and innovative care pathways and clinical practice.

“This allows us to ensure that the care is effective and of benefit, and allows others to learn from our innovations."

Dr Laura Green, from Manchester University, said: "Evaluating end of life and bereavement care is vital if we are to develop compassionate, culturally sensitive and equitable services across the NHS.

"As a palliative care nurse and researcher, I recognise that it can be challenging to capture the essence of how services and individuals work together for the benefit of patients and their families. I am really looking forward to working with a team of inspiring academic and clinical partners on evaluating the SWAN model of care.”

Prof Alison Leary, principal investigator, said: "We are very privileged to be 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 the impact it has, we can ensure more people can have access to it."