6th October 2014

A week in the life of the Education Team

Here at St Richard’s Hospice, we believe that high quality, individualised end of life care should be the norm for all patients with life threatening illnesses. As we care for patients and their loved ones during their illness and after their death, we continually challenge and review the care we provide to ensure that people are offered the very best care possible.

The Education department is passionate about learning and supporting the health and social care workforce in Worcestershire and beyond. We provide high quality, nationally recognised training courses, using a range of flexible approaches to meet each individual’s learning needs, to help individuals develop professionally and meet the standards expected for our health and social care services.

We deliver a range of courses, including induction sessions for new staff and volunteers, training in specific areas of palliative care, professional development courses and clinical training updates. We welcome learners to our courses from a wide range of services; not only our own staff and volunteers, but also staff from residential and nursing care homes, hospitals, primary care teams, schools, colleges and domiciliary care agencies.

This week, we are evaluating the effectiveness of courses we have just completed, including a clinical training session on how to use a Syringe Driver for administering medicines. We always review feedback from students, researching best practice examples from across the country and look for opportunities to improve our future sessions.

One medical student said; “I really enjoyed it and got a lot out of the day – really lovely staff, and it was really good how there was a plan and a structure, but also that the day was influenced by what we wanted to achieve.”

We are also putting the finishing touches to courses taking place over the coming weeks. Our St Richard’s induction session later this week will welcome our newest members of staff and volunteers. Those attending will learn how St Richard’s offers compassionate care to patients and their loved ones, and how each person receives holistic care that meets their individual needs.

It is important to us that each individual working on behalf of the hospice shares our ethos that every person matters to the very end of their lives and that we support staff and volunteers to develop the skills they need. We recognise the value of our volunteers’ input to our services, and here at St Richard’s they are considered as much part of the team as our paid staff.

Later this month, we will be running one of our most popular courses, helping people to actively listen. The group, including nurses, health care assistants, social workers, volunteers and staff from residential care settings, will learn how to deal with emotionally difficult subjects, with particular emphasis on death and bereavement, and how to manage conversations with sensitivity and compassion. Using role play, the group will investigate their own approach to dying and will develop their own communication skills. The skills they develop will help them to provide high quality compassionate care to patients and their families wherever they are receiving hospice care: at our In-patient Unit or Day Hospice, within their own homes, GP surgery or residential care home.

St Richard’s Hospice has a strong partnership with the University of Worcester and we deliver university accredited specialist education programmes at Foundation degree and post-graduate degree level. This partnership has been strengthened with the development of the Centre for Palliative Care which aims to spread learning and develop the evidence and research base.

Following a successful pilot course earlier this year, plans are now being finalised for a group of third year student nurses from Worcester University to learn about holistic palliative care. Whichever specialty the students focus on during their career, the course aims to give them the skills they need to offer high quality care to patients at the end of their lives.

As part of a structured programme of learning, the students will learn about effective symptom control, family support and bereavement. Following theoretical sessions, they will experience a team meeting and will learn how the different professions work together to offer holistic care for the patient and their family. Each student will then see how theory is put into practice by spending a day with one of the hospice’s Nurse Specialists working with people in the community, and with a member of the team, for example with one of the specialist palliative doctors and nurses, counsellors or chaplains.

As an Education team we continually challenge and review the training experience we offer, and aim to provide the highest quality courses that meet the professional development needs of our staff and volunteers, and to the wider health and social care economy.

Robert Standfield

Education Manager