Shaping the approach to end of life training and education across Hampshire

Categories: Care.

As part of their Partnership in Care Training (PaCT) training programme Hampshire County Council (HCC), social services department wished to commission End of Life Care (EoLC) training for their care homes, domiciliary care agencies and other social care staff.  

A meeting was convened by HCC with all five hospices and specialist palliative care (SPC) units, both independent and NHS, to detail their commissioning intentions with view to hospices and SPC units putting forward a range of tenders to meet the required specification, which would ultimately lead to the award of a contract. 

It became clear that both hospices and SPC providers had been placed into a position where they would ultimately be competing for the contract, which could further lead to education and training being provided by a hospice/SPC professional from outside their respective ‘areas of care’. 

In the spirit of collaboration a consortia was developed where all providers agreed to place a collective bid, with each service developing one training module to meet the education priorities in EoLC for the social care workforce, which could be delivered across Hampshire by local palliative care teams. The modules selected were determined against the specific interests of each hospice and in our case; the loss and bereavement module was developed. Where particular expertise was held by one hospice, eg The Rowans Hospice with bereavement and loss, the practitioner would co-facilitate with another hospice colleague who held local knowledge. Other modules developed by neighbouring services offered; Domiciliary Care Workshop in EoLC, Dealing with Difficult Conversations and the Supported Learning Programme (SLP) in EoLC. 

The contract was awarded and HCC have been committed to support this collaborative approach throughout; recognising the benefits to all concerned in working collectively as a consortia to develop training modules that can be embedded into practice as part of PaCT.

The hospices/SPC unit have now completed a number of these workshops; working as a group of experienced and specialist professionals across both NHS and independent hospice and has broken down some of the tensions that can sometimes exist between neighbouring services, which can emanate from competition with regards to fundraising and from competing for commissions, which will become part of the norm in the new NHS. 

We believe this collaborative approach has demonstrated how well our sector can work together and that collectively we can support commissioning intentions in the future.  It has also fostered our relationship with social carers, which will support service delivery across health and social care in the future. 

Quotes from the loss and bereavement course

The key message I took away from this course was:

  • “To listen to understand how people are feeling – read the cues.”
  • “Better understanding of how to deal with loss and bereavement.”
  • “One can’t always get it right, but can listen and care.”

Since the collaboration with Hampshire County Council and our hospice and SPC colleagues, Portsmouth City Council’s learning and development team has also commissioned two EoLC training workshops to be delivered by The Rowans Hospice; one for domiciliary care staff, designed to help them train their own staff (train the trainers) and one for social care staff who are supporting a growing number of people who are nearing the end of their life.

Quotes from the social care training course

Would you recommend this training to a colleague?

  • “We all work with people needing some sort of end of life care/support and it will help colleagues to know how to deal with issues in a practical way.”
  • “It is essential to take the time to learn about services available and to ensure that you remain up to date with what is going on and to continue to improve understanding and teaching.”

The Rowans Hospice is further working with Havant Borough Council, which has funded a series of five workshops, which explore EoLC within care homes. The workshops explore advance care planning, symptom management, diagnosing dying and what matters at the end of life, bereavement and support and communication. In my role as education facilitator I am working closely with the community nurse specialist for care homes to prepare an educational programme, which utilises the EoLC toolkit. 

In my experience the success of all programmes delivered to date has been down to giving the time to consider carefully the timing of the workshops to support the availability of social care staff to maximise attendance and engagement. All care homes within the borough are keen to improve their skills and develop their practice and I have been acutely aware of how much they care and want to learn to make a positive contribution to the lives of their residents and to feel that they are a vital and valued component of community care.

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