James Norris the founder of MyWishes was invited to attend and participate in an intensive, week long palliative care masterclass. By attending, James hoped to develop his leadership skills and obtain insights into high quality, end of life care services operating across different regions. The following article is an opinion piece written by James about his experiences of the masterclass.
About the Masterclass
The masterclass in Palliative Care took place between 14 November – 18 November 2022 in Kozhikode, Kerala, India. The Masterclass was an advanced interactive learning program in palliative care. The program involved group discussions and faculty-led interactive sessions on the philosophy and practice of palliative care, initiation of supporting platforms and exposure to grassroots-level initiatives in palliative care.
The theme of the program was “Being prepared to lead change”.
Prior to the masterclass I undertook the award winning, ‘Fellowship in Palliative Care‘ programme’. This was developed and delivered by the Institute of Palliative Medicine in Kerala, St Christopher’s Hospice in London, Sanjeevan Palliative Care Project in Pondicherry and the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in Dhaka.
The Fellowship in Palliative Care is a six month programme delivered virtually. The masterclass was a continuation of this learning and conducted at the request of the World Health Organisation (WHO). As part of the masterclass, attendees also contributed to WHO palliative care policy documentation for the South East Asian region.
What happened: Masterclass programme schedule
Sessions started at 7:30am and concluded at 7:30pm. There was a strong focus throughout the programme on self-reflection, personal and institutional development. About 60 or so palliative care professionals participated.
Some of the sessions were attended by all, others were delivered to better aid the personal development within three specialist fields (doctors, nurses and other palliative care professionals). Further information about the sessions and the full programme can be downloaded (word doc) by clicking here.
With the exception of visiting medical institutes and making visits to people within the local community, everything took place within our newly claimed home. We worked, slept and ate onsite. This, along with the intensity of the programme, the duration and the quality of the sessions, harnessed a hugely productive educational experience. I slept in one of the ‘male dorms’ with 10 or so other fellows.
We woke up together and had broken conversations whilst we brushed our teeth. We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner side by side. Instead of forging business connections, friendships were made. It was clear that all those attending were passionate about delivering care and improving health ecosystems within our own places of work and counties of residence.
Kerala is the birthplace of ‘Compassionate Communities’. Compassionate Communities is built on a combined ethos of a public health approach to palliative and end of life care and community. ‘Compassion’ was one of the key themes that was explored at a structural and personal level throughout the week.
MyWishes is supporting a recently launched ‘Compassionate Hillingdon’ programme in North West London. This programme is heavily influenced by the Compassionate Communities movement. A number of lessons learned from the masterclass will feed into the future development of the Compassionate Hillingdon programme in the months and years ahead.
The masterclass was the most enjoyable and worthwhile palliative care educational programme I have ever experienced. Working and collaborating alongside others passionate about hospice and palliative care in such an environment has led to friendships and plans for future collaboration that otherwise would not have been possible. Further plans to meet-up with those on the masterclass and invitations to stay in each other’s homes have been both offered and also received.
The feelings that I am now left with about the Masterclass mirrors those of attending Glastonbury festivals. This obscure connection between the two is due to the togetherness, intensity and community created during a relatively short period of time.
I would like to thank Dr Suresh Kumar, Professor Heather Richardson, Dr Libby Sallnow, Priyatha Ponnappan, Marie Cooper, Saif Mohammed, Ilyas, the rest of the team, volunteers and all of the fellow masterclass participants for such a memorable and worthwhile experience.
I am certain that the wider, societal and developmental impact of the masterclass in the years to come will be hugely positive and of significance.
The Masterclass in Palliative Care was a masterclass!
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