26 January 2016

Specialist knowledge, specialist care

Education 1Rennie Grove Hospice Care is fortunate to have an excellent education team, which provides training opportunities for all the charity’s staff - clinical and non-clinical - as well as external healthcare providers. 

The team has been working with Buckinghamshire’s Quality in Care team, an NHS-funded organisation supporting care providers such as care homes, to supply training around end-of-life care. Currently 68,000 people in Bucks have a life-limiting illness, 4,000 of whom are living in care homes. 

Rennie Grove’s education team has been delivering sessions for carers and registered nurses working at care homes throughout Bucks.  They designed two workshops, one aimed at carers, who need to know the practical issues around caring for someone at end-of-life.  This workshop focuses on recognising dying and the hands-on care that a patient nearing death will need. 

The nurses’ workshop deals with symptom management, prognostic indicators and Advanced Care Planning, so that nurses in care homes feel confident to care for residents at all stages of a terminal diagnosis.  

Education Lead, Jo Oates, explains: “Both workshops cover communication skills in detail too because being able to communicate with a patient and their family towards end-of-life is crucial. Communicating effectively and sensitively can make the difference between a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ death, irrespective of the standard of care provided.  It’s an important part of the training that all Rennie Grove nurses undertake too.”

Jo believes the training is all the more important since District Nurses no longer have a remit to visit care homes with a nursing focus.  “The problem is two-fold,” she says, “sometimes staff don’t recognise that someone is dying, so they are unable to provide the most appropriate care for that individual and their family.  In many cases specialist care is not required and the nurses at the home are fully capable of providing the care needed.  It’s my hope the training will empower the care home nurses to recognise and meet a dying patient’s needs, although of course the Rennie Grove nurses would always be on hand to help with complex cases and specialist nursing needs.”

Jo’s vision is that Rennie Grove nurses would complement the training with weekly scheduled visits to the care homes in their patch.  “Regular visits alongside the training would be the perfect scenario,” she explains.  “That would give nurses in care homes the confidence to care for patients approaching end-of-life.”

At present Rennie Grove provides the training free of charge, although the charity’s education team does try to recoup costs for any external training wherever possible.  “Charging for training helps out the charity, because we have annual running costs of £6.7 million, but patient care is paramount so in this instance we have waived the fee to ensure patients in Bucks receive the best possible care,” concludes Jo.