St Christopher’s international bursary students help promote vision for worldwide hospice care

Categories: Education.

The presentation was to members of the Wives’ Fellowship – the group who funded the student’s bursaries to study at the hospice and share best practice in the palliative care field – and other invited guests.

Up to six bursaries are awarded by the Wives’ Fellowship annually to students in resource poor countries to enable them to attend the Multi-Professional Week course in Palliative Care at St Christopher’s Education Centre, followed by a further clinical placement week in the hospice. The bursaries aim to help St Christopher’s promote the original vision of founder Dame Cicely Saunders: “to transform the care of the dying and the practice of medicine in the UK and throughout the world.” The Bursary Programme has been running since 2001 and has so far supported 80 successful applicants.

The students come with very different backgrounds and experiences. This year two bursary students attended from the Seychelles and one each from Burundi, Cameroon, and India. All demonstrated their commitment and passion to share their newfound knowledge and to champion hospice care in their home countries. They were awarded the bursary, after a selection process of many applicants.

2015 bursary student Yvonne Telemaque, Senior Nursing Officer, Seychelles Hospital, Seychelles, said: “This award was a dream come true for me; I have gained so much knowledge. This international exposure has really expanded my vision and broadened my knowledge, and my new enhanced skills will benefit my patients and my community. With this in mind, I feel rich with confidence and look forward to my first presentation back home to my peers and colleagues.”

On the anniversary of their placement, St Christopher’s bursary students produce a report for the Wives’ Fellowship and St Christopher’s, to explain how their training has furthered hospice care in their home country. 

Christian Ntizimira, one of last year’s Bursary Programme students from Kibagabaga Hospital in Rwanda, reported back: “Daily, I’m practicing and sharing my experiences from St. Christopher’s Hospice either with patients, families, and policy makers or in the community level… One area of activities which captured my attention was the tremendous role of volunteers at St Christopher’s.

“As the Director of Clinical Services at the first hospice in Rwanda and the Head of Palliative Care Services at Kibagabaga Hospital, I duplicated the same idea of using community health workers (volunteers) to play a big role in the management of palliative care patients and supporting families in the community…

“The program was the first of its kind in Rwanda and really successful; a model of care that will be duplicated and integrated into our public health system”.

Catherine Dent, from the Wives’ Fellowship explained: “Dame Cicely Saunders’ vision and work transformed care of the dying and related medical practice in the UK and worldwide. Almost 50 years later, St Christopher’s remains a leading centre for research and education while continuing to provide a palliative care service locally. 

“Since 1976, contributions from us, the Wives’ Fellowship, have been used to fund several specific projects including the provision of bursaries to students from resource-poor countries, which means that we are impacting nationally and internationally on the promotion of ‘best possible practice’.”

Liz Bryan, Director of Education and Training at St Christopher’s, said: “We are enormously grateful to the Wives’ Fellowship for funding this wonderful bursary scheme. According to the World Health Organisation, 86% of people around the world who need palliative care do not receive it. This annual St Christopher’s Bursary Programme enables us to share our palliative care knowledge and experience with countries which have limited resources and very restricted palliative care provision, thereby improving end of life care for many, many people”.

Find out more about the Wives’ Fellowship and the St Christopher’s Hospice online.

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