Growing a resilient workforce within palliative care

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(This article was originally published on ehospice-International edition.)  Psychological resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity. While there is some evidence that staff working in palliative and end of life care are no more stressed than their counterparts in cancer care or other specialities, it is clear that the pressures on staff in palliative care are changing and there needs to be a much more proactive approach to engendering resilience. (1)

In March 2015, Hospice UK produced a report (2) in partnership with Point of Care Foundation about resilience within hospices. The report identified three main sources of stress for hospice staff:

  • The nature of the work – working with patients who are dying can lead to staff experiencing a sense of chronic anticipatory grief and loss.
  • Organisational and management pressures – for example, challenges around internal communications and change, as well as the drive to increase capacity in hospice care.
  • Changes to ways of working – for example, caring for more people with multiple, complex heath needs, including dementia.

There are a number of key issues that help foster resilience which include:

  • responsive and effective leadership within the organization
  • clearly defined roles and responsibilities at all levels with the organization
  • sufficient resources to complete the task
  • safe spaces to debrief or offload.

Finding ways to ensure that teams are resilient is the subject of the next hospice23 residential conference, which is being held at Hothorpe Hall, Leicestershire from the 4 to 7 November 2016.

This conference offers a unique approach to looking at the issues, combining lectures, small group discussion and personal space for reflection within a safe and supportive environment.

Resilience is a vital ingredient for all working within palliative and end of life care. At a time when resources are being squeezed and all are being asked to do more with less and deliver services differently, this is an ideal opportunity to take some time out, grow your own resilience and take some ideas back to your own organisation about this vital subject.

Find out more about the conference and how to book on the hospice23 website.


  1. Monroe B, Oliviere D. Resilience in palliative care: achievement in adversity. Oxford University Press; 2007.
  2. Goodrich J, Harrison T, Cornwell J. Resilience: A framework supporting staff to flourish in stressful times. Hospice UK; 2015. Available from:

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