Anita Hayes joined Hospice UK earlier this year as Head of Learning and Workforce. Here she tells ehospice what she wants to achieve in this newly created post.
What is your career experience to date?
I qualified as a nurse in 1981 at University College Hospital and then went on to specialise in burns and plastic surgery nursing. That might sound quite unusual for the area I now work in, but when I was working in plastic surgery nursing I cared for many people who had experienced life-changing events and often endured prolonged treatments, experiencing loss and having to adapt to a new life. I became very interested in psychological care, learning about how people adjusted to loss, relationships and wellbeing.
That eventually led me to education and a passion for lifelong learning. I undertook my teacher training and worked as a nurse teacher at the Royal Masonic and Roehampton School and then Crawley School of Nursing. I have also worked in the private health and care sector for 10 years, supporting education, learning and development, and also in clinical practice roles.
I came back to work in the NHS as a project manager in the Cancer Services Collaborative in 1999, when the first NHS Cancer Plan was published, and I also returned to clinical practice. I worked as a Nurse Director for the Kent and Medway Cancer Network between 2004-2008.
I went on to work in the National End of Life Care Programme team for England from 2008 – 2012, supporting the implementation of the DH End of Life Care Strategy.The programme ended in 2012, but the work continued to support acute hospitals improvement in end of life care and the implementation of Electronic Palliative Care Coordination Systems (EPaCCs). I led these work streams as the programme director in NHS Improving Quality.
In 2015 I started working with The National Council for Palliative Care (who merged with Hospice UK in 2017) and worked with Macmillan Cancer Support to deliver a programme for acute hospitals. This was about the voluntary sector coming together with the NHS to improve end of life care and was called Building on the Best.
I was privileged to work with ten acute Trusts across England, three Trusts in Scotland and to work in partnership with the Scottish Council for Palliative Care. The teams delivered some amazing, innovative work with quality improvement projects improving end of life care in outpatient clinics, in shared decision-making, communications and handover, and improving pain and symptom management.
I also worked with the Emergency Care Improvement Programme, which focussed on how we could improve care for people attending hospital as an emergency who may be in the last three months of life. That programme has now completed but Hospice UK continues to have a community of practice with the acute Trusts coming together to exchange learning.
What attracted you to the role at Hospice UK?
It felt like such a great opportunity to bring together my previous experience in education, quality improvement and clinical practice to contribute towards Hospice UK’s mission to enable hospice care to transform the way society cares for the dying and those around them.
There’s some really innovative work happening across the hospice sector and we’ve got lots of opportunities to further support partnerships with hospitals, care homes and in communities. We have recently seen the NHS long-term plan published in England and it’s great that it highlights the importance of end of life care conversations and choice. It also states the importance of hospices in supporting the delivery of personalised care.
I am delighted to be in post and have been developing our plans for work identifying the things we can do sooner rather than later, but also acknowledging we are on a journey in terms of some of the workforce changes we will all need to make ahead.
What are your key goals for your first year in the role?
I think the first year is all about building on firm foundations because there has already been a lot of work undertaken on the challenges of the workforce and priorities including the commission for the Future of Hospice Care recommendations and progress report. So now, it’s about having a clear plan and approach and working in partnership with colleagues to deliver that.
I would like to bring together existing resources so they are more easily accessible for our members, so we can see the relationship for example between the population based needs assessment tool and workforce planning, development and learning opportunities and grants/bursaries.
Also progressing work in specific areas for example vocational pathways and routes into nursing careers in palliative care.
An event in May is aimed at building on the feedback from the Hospice UK roadshows last year and focusses on nursing career pathways. From that we would then like to create a network so we can continue to have peer-to-peer conversations and work together on our priorities, develop, test and share our solutions.
What challenges do you see ahead?
We already know we have challenges recruiting staff, and there is a need to focus our attention on how we retain value and support staff with learning and development in a financially challenged climate. Our opportunity is to work in a more integrated way in the future, working across the health and care system with hospitals and care homes, primary care, and communities with teams working together collaboratively. There is a need for utilising our scarce resources well for us to better understand the population’s needs for the future.
Technology will play a big part in how we work and learn. However, we also know from evidence that it’s really important that our learning approaches are blended and we use a range of methods and approaches, it’s not all about using technology and it’s still really important having those face-to-face opportunities for learning. However in the future simulation and virtual technologies also have a key role to play.
Over the next ten years we’re also going to see experienced people retiring from the palliative care workforce. We have many staff over the age of 55 across the sector, some who will want to retire. Equally we also have many younger people coming into palliative care, so how do we facilitate the tacit knowledge of the experienced practitioner that’s not written down and isn’t going to be learned in a classroom, to be passed onto the next generation of palliative care practitioners and clinical leaders. Some of the people who retire will want to return to work too, so how can we best create a skilled workforce equipped to meet the different needs of the future.
What would you like to achieve long term?
My ambition is to see us realise an integrated palliative and end of life care workforce, so that wherever a person requiring care is they will receive the right care personalised for them and that our workforce is skilled and equipped to support that.
How has the sector changed over the course of your career?
When I reflect and I think about my own career experience to date, I was very fortunate to have great guides and role models, who let me walk alongside them and learn, find my feet and develop my skills. That was invaluable. I think it has become more challenging given increasing demands and complexity, and the busyness of the environment has changed a lot from when I trained in 1978 to now!
Of course, there has been a huge amount of work defining quality and safety, and we have moved a long way in terms of being able to describe that and have a common language. There has been a huge amount of work around developing quality standards, clinical guidelines, and assurance and regulation. We have standards of practice, education and supervision.
Much has also progressed in research and evidence-based practice, but amidst the increasing pressures, complexity and fast-paced nature of change in the 21st century we must find ways to create space for people to focus on the practical implementation of change and learning together. We must also create cultures where people feel fully engaged, involved and valued, so that we can better meet the future demands for palliative care ahead.