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Education at ellenor: Empowering the World’s Carers to Deliver High Quality End of Life Care

“Give a person a fish, you feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime.”

Lao Tzu’s classic quote is still as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. Especially when talking about training at ellenor.

Of course, most people know ellenor as a hospice charity providing care and support for life limited patients, and their families, in the North Kent and Bexley communities. From our Northfleet-based hospice to the homes of our patients throughout Dartford, Bexley, Swanley and Gravesend, we cater to all aspects of a patient’s health – be they psychological, clinical, social or emotional.

What’s less well-known, however, is that we don’t only provide care itself. It empowers other carers to do the same.

Aimed primarily at carers and nurses working in community health provider organisations, we offer a wide range of training and education programs. The sessions – which are delivered as part of a partnership with fellow local hospices Heart of Kent and Pilgrims, as well as Kent Community Foundation Trust – span a range of topics related to palliative and end-of-life care.

Sessions available through ellenor include:

  • Essential End of Life Communication Skills
  • Symptom Control
  • Holistic Assessment & Recognising the Dying Patient
  • Discussions and Decisions Involving Resuscitation
  • Bereavement & Loss
  • Wellbeing & Self Care
  • Verification of Death by Registered Nurses
  • Advance Care Planning – Voice & Choice
  • Syringe Pump Theory and Drug Calculations
  • ReSPECT Training for Healthcare Professionals
  • Care of the Dying Patient and Basic Symptom Control

The goal? To raise the standards of care for patients with life limiting illness to equip carers, nurses and other health care professionals, with the tools to deliver effective care. Emphasis is on the health care professional’s empathetic approach to their clients/residents/patients and their family.

Providing education for nurses and carers has always been part of our DNA; it’s as ingrained as its ethos of patient-centred holistic care. We have delivered training – backed by names such as NHS, Health Education England, and CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group).

COVID- 19 in March 2020-July 2021

With carers and nurses suddenly placed under immense strain. They faced new challenges such as trying to cope with the high number of deaths in the community, how to care for the dying, as well as trying to protect themselves from the virus. We rose to this challenge and helped to support health care workers in the surrounding nursing homes, with demonstrations on how to use the Personal Protection Equipment. This support was delivered by visiting the nursing homes (in the Dartford Gravesham area) and talking to staff about their concerns. These concerns were on the care of the increased number of dying patient they were caring for. The Education department recognised educational support was needed to empower these carers to deliver care to the dying

How do we reach the health care workers who would benefit from these sessions as we had historically delivered face to face training. Training delivered virtually was the answer. Its success spurred subsequent training topics to be delivered in this manner and up to date this style of delivery is preferred.

Virtually training does have its faults however when there is a need to reach as many attendees as possible, this method of delivery is the answer. The Kent and Medway Collaboration training sessions have captured international interest. Attendees from Australia, Singapore, India and Dubai have been present at some of these sessions. Some of these international attendees have a role in education in nursing.

What is the most popular session?

The high number of attendance for the Essential End of Life Communication Skills, is  indicative of its popularity. There is great demand on How to manage “difficult” conversations. When asked by a person if they are dying is one of the questions that causes great anxiety for health care professionals. No one likes to be the bearer of bad news, but when asked it needs to be answered.  Below, Sue Marshall – ellenor’s Practice Development Facilitator, is one of the key drivers behind the training. Below is a brief account of what carers can expect on the course.

A Glimpse into ellenor’s Essential End of Life Communication Skills

With Sue Marshall, Practice Development Facilitator

“An end-of-life patient might say ‘I think I’m getting better. Do you?’

 “It could be denial; they could be having a good day and are clinging to hope. How you, as a carer, respond to that is crucial. While it’s lovely to agree with them, is that really the right answer?

 “In the Communication training, we suggest saying ‘you’re having a really good day today, and it’s lovely seeing you look so well.’ “How do you think you are doing overall”.  “The listener would allow for silence at this time to allow the person to ponder and reflect before they give an answer.” “Cues can be picked up from their response. This will give the listener an indication of where the person is at with accepting their overall condition. Lets take each day as it comes and as you are feeling good today is there anything you would like to do.

 “Palliative care is a psychosocial journey. You have to have knowledge and communication skills to traverse it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t communicate in the same way as the person next to you; we all touch people in different ways. 

 “Our training isn’t about changing who you are, or how you do things. It’s about respecting and embracing those personal qualities – and enhancing them.”