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Hospice Education Team: Supporting staff and community partners in 2020

Reflections on supporting our staff and community partners in delivering excellent end of life care, by Dr Julie Luscombe, Head of Education and Learning.

At Jersey Hospice Care we have always had a vision. We believe that everyone in Jersey with a life limiting condition and those close to them should have access to quality care and support whenever and whenever they need it. Our purpose is to deliver excellent end of life care whilst providing dignity and choice for those living with dying and we are committed to sharing that knowledge by building the confidence and competence of staff within Hospice and across the Island so that everyone gets the right care and support at the right time in the right place by the right people. Education is the key to achieving that ambition and is one of the cornerstones of our work here at the charity.

This has never felt so important with the pandemic highlighting the importance of delivering outstanding end of life care for our community and we are in a unique position to support our community partners and of course our own staff. I’m lucky enough to lead an experienced and inspirational education team who all come from diverse professional backgrounds reflecting the different aspects of holistic care.

Trying to do a jigsaw without being able to see the picture!

However, our planned programme for 2020 got turned on its head as the pandemic gathered speed in early 2020. Like teams across the island our work was thrown up in the air. Lockdown came and two of our team were redeployed back into clinical practice to support our In Patient Unit and the rest of us were sent to work remotely unless directly teaching. As always, our priority was making sure our patients and their families continued to get the excellent care they needed. To do this we had to make sure everyone felt confident and competent as we all learned new skills, responded to guidance and yet more policies and guidance!

Our clinicians all pooled their skills to work together and our education team supported that by quickly pulling together a skills based education programme in the classroom and shadowing in practice to ensure everyone was prepared. Information and changes were coming at us constantly as the Government of Jersey responded to the ever-changing information becoming available. It sometimes felt like doing a huge jigsaw puzzle with the picture on it changing every five minutes, pieces going missing, irrelevant pieces being flung at you then someone taking the box away so you couldn’t see the picture!

But we got there and I’m immensely proud of the team for their adaptability, support and humour as we tried our very best to ensure everyone had the education and training they needed at this time.

And of course we also have teams behind the scenes who support the clinicians to do what they do and we needed to make sure we also continued to support them with education with a particular focus on wellbeing. Having to work remotely is tough and it is easy for people to feel isolated. Myself and the remaining education team members had to learn new skills as we produced education videos to send to our teams who were now working remotely. I personally enjoyed doing this as I could chat away on video with nobody to interrupt me! We are now moving into delivering education virtually using different platforms so we can continue to support our teams until we can all be in a classroom together again safely.

Supporting our community partners

Looking back on 2020 it is tempting to think of all the things that didn’t go as planned, but actually I’m proud to say we continued to support our community partners with end of life care education as much as we could; either face to face or with video resources throughout the pandemic. We still managed to deliver most of our community education programme with participants from health care settings across the island and when we couldn’t do that we directed our partners to credible resources related to end of life care and COVID-19. We hosted the first ever Island wide degree and masters level module for end of life and palliative care and have now signed up to host the European Certificate in Essential Palliative Care in partnership with Princess Alice Hospice in the UK. Lots to build on for 2021.

What next?

Although we are still living in uncertain times, we are now back together as a full team and ready for 2021. We have launched our community education programme which we can hopefully deliver face to face but if not, we will find other ways of getting the information out. Supported by our specialist clinical staff, our varied programme focuses on all aspects of the patient and family journey ranging from half and full day workshops to longer weekly courses all focusing on raising skills, knowledge and awareness on topics relating to the principles of end of life care. For example we provide short workshops to support practitioners having those essential conversations with people who have life limiting conditions whether that is about planning for their care at the end of life, breaking bad news or discussing spiritual needs at the end of someone’s life. Family support does not end with the death of a loved one, so we also offer a course on understanding loss and grief.

One of our longer courses is a series of half day workshops focusing on broad principles set out by the National Framework Ambitions for Palliative and End of Life Care – a national framework for local action that advocates that we all have a part to play in palliative care no matter which health care setting we work in. http://endoflifecareambitions.org.uk/

Another exciting development for the coming year is the launch of Jersey Hospice Care as a Regional Training Centre for delivery of the Gold Standards Framework; a best practice model in end of life care in recognition of our continued pursuit of excellence in the delivery of palliative and end of life care education. This has been on hold because of the pandemic but watch this space for more news about this soon!

And of course by attending one of our courses you are supporting patient care at Jersey Hospice Care, which is at the heart of everything we do. We hope to see our community partners in person to continue the learning journey in 2021.

You can find information about how to apply for any of our courses on https://www.jerseyhospicecare.com/education-and-training/education-programme/ and for further details, please contact JulieLuscombe@jerseyhospicecare.com

The Jersey Hospice Care Community Education Team (photo taken before COVID-19)