This is who it takes: the Head of Practice Development

Categories: Care, Featured, and People & Places.

Hospice Care Week begins next week, with this year’s campaign highlighting what it takes to deliver care to the people who need it. In this ehospice series we’re shining the spotlight on the individuals who make this possible. Here Jude Holt, the Head of Practice Development at St Ann’s Hospice in Greater Manchester, tells us about changing careers from teaching to working in palliative care.

I have rather a colourful background – I spent 10 years in the Diabetes Centre at York District Hospital and whilst there I studied for a PGCE. I decided to change careers and returned home to Manchester in 2004 where I starting teaching in a Further Education College.

My current post as the Head of Practice Development combines my clinical experience and my role in education, so even though my background is not palliative care I have a good understanding of how clinical areas operate, and the importance of education and training to our workforce. I am also very good at understanding educational levels, standards and requirements, which can be very confusing.

I’m rather nosey and I do like to have an oversight into all that is happening across the organisation. In order to develop a service, you have to have a true understanding of how the organisation functions on a day-to-day level, consequently I spend a lot of my time in clinical areas and with different clinical teams.

Every day is different. I am currently looking at CQC standards and seeing if we have any areas where we could improve, or any aspect of our practice that we need to shout about. I recently spent the afternoon at Manchester’s Sick! Festival where I sat on a panel discussing inequalities at the end of life. This morning I was with one of our counsellors at an event in Manchester to look at the Trainee Advanced Practitioner in Mental Health role, to see if our workforce would benefit from it.

I have to think on my feet a lot, remember people’s names and their job roles, but I thoroughly enjoy the challenge. In the morning I might be in a prison in Manchester talking about their palliative care needs and in the afternoon I might be involved in a meeting about the most effective way to implement OACC into clinical settings. I like it like this, the differing work streams hold my attention and it means I have an insight into many different areas of the hospice and the community which surrounds us – which is a good place for me to be, both personally and professionally.

I have changed careers three times which is not for the faint hearted – palliative care is very specialised. I have read a lot and listened to a lot of very knowledgeable people which has helped.  Understanding palliative care and how hospices work has been both a challenge and an achievement.

I am proud to work at St Ann’s so I tell a lot of people. Their response depends on who they are and where the conversation takes place – it could be “gosh how sad” (I try to explain that actually it is not); “Oh, you are good” (I usually leave it at that); and “fantastic places” (a story will always follow).

Hospice Care Week runs from October 7 – 13