Reflections from the Front Line: Presenting and being published – I can do that!

Categories: Education.

Recently I was privileged to teach two of my favourite workshops. ‘I can do that! Writing for publication’ and ‘I can do that! Teaching and presenting’.

‘I can do that! Writing for publication’ is a half-day interactive workshop encouraging and facilitating participants to see the importance in their role to be able to disseminate their knowledge through social media, journal articles, opinion pieces, conference posters or presentations and book chapters. The workshop is part of the Mount Vernon Cancer Network five-day transition programme. Hosted this year by Rennie Grove Hospice Care, the programme is in its third year and was developed to support the transition of practitioners from a generalist to a specialist post.

‘I can do that! Teaching and presenting’ is two-day workshop for up to six participants facilitating their confidence and skills to teach from the bedside to the lecture hall. It includes two opportunities to try out their skills with focussed feedback. The workshop is part of the Hospice of St Francis education programme and is motivated by my passion to encourage others to share their knowledge and experience with others.

The workshop was great. Participants ranged from healthcare assistants, nurses, therapists and doctors. We had sessions about handmade shoes, ginger, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs using a cup cake holder, three plastic cups and a piece of paper and a not to be missed tough ‘love session’ about moving and handling.

Confident and empowered

One of the reasons that I love these workshops is the personal pleasure that I get from seeing participants move from shyness and lack of confidence to confidence and empowerment. I will be honest, I feel incredibly emotional and proud when I see how I have helped the participants in a small way to do this. William B Yeats is accredited with saying ‘Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire’. The feeling of satisfaction of seeing participants’ fire being lit with skills and confidence is great.

This year, both sessions really got me sitting and thinking about the wider influence of hospices on care and what the relevance of such workshops was. How important is it for hospices to teach people to present or publish? Can confidence to teach and publish translate into a confidence to care? I really began to think about our role and responsibilities to influence ‘practical compassion’.

In the foreword to ‘Future ambitions for hospice care: our mission and opportunity‘ (Help the Hospices Oct 2013), Dame Clare Tickell tells us how hospices are “intimately connected to people with palliative and end of life care needs and their communities who can offer support. They are advocates for those who may be less visible in society. These characteristics are the foundations for effective influence and practical compassion which have given rise to a most valued brand of care.”

Practical compassion is therefore concerned with our links to the community and our expertise. The report is also clear that hospices need to influence and lead in other ways.

Compassion is a key component of health and social care. It is a thread that runs through everything. However, people are the needle through which this thread is threaded. It is people who make a difference. Tommy Whitelaw champions the value of the individual person with his call to arms of “will you be that person who makes the difference?”

Which brings me back to the ‘I can do that!’ workshops. I am struck with how important it is to facilitate teaching and publications skills across the less visible members of our workforce. It is easy to see the importance of empowering senior staff in our teams with these skills. They are often the ones who are asked to present at the conferences, write the opinion pieces and contribute to the academic courses. They must of course continue to so do. It is not an either/or choice.

But I am also struck with how important it is to empower the less obvious members of our workforce. They also are the ones who see the student on their practice placement. They also are the ones who quietly hold the hand of the distressed relative. They also are the ones who have a part to play in translating skills into confidence to care. They have threads of care to share with others.

When I first started at the Hospice of St Francis all our publications and conference presentations were done by our most experienced staff. Most excellent I thought. However now when I look at our publication’s list and our education programme I am proud to see names from our nurses, doctors, chefs, therapists, social workers, fundraising, education and many others. They are threading their skills and experiences to others to provide practical compassionate care. I sincerely hope that they are quietly whispering to themselves: I can do that – I did that. 

If this article has inspired you to disseminate your knowledge, ehospice is the perfect place to get published. Contact us if you would like to write an opinion piece, or if you have some news or information to share. We would love to hear from you!

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