A newly piloted project has enabled hospice charity ellenor to give nursing students a vital insight into palliative care in their first year of training.
Working in partnership with the universities of Greenwich and Canterbury, the students have been able to get first-hand experience in the hospice ward and out in the wider community.
One youngster to take advantage of the scheme is 19-year-old Ashitha JoJu, who arrived in the UK from Kerala in India in September to start her BSC Adult Nursing Degree at Canterbury Christchurch.
During her three-year course she will have three placements, and the first was four weeks with ellenor.
Ash admitted she was apprehensive about working in end-of-life care, especially as it was her first placement, but the experience proved to be a very pleasant surprise.
She said: “I absolutely loved it, and everyone was so nice to me, so helpful. Coming into hospice care, I was expecting something dark, but it was so comforting, and I have learned so much. When I was younger, I thought hospices were all about death, but what I saw at ellenor was about making life easier and helping patients to have a good death. You learn that death is a normal part of life and that it should happen and it’s OK. I know I will see death in my career and that is fine.”
The education department at ellenor has been working closely with the universities offering nursing and paramedic placements to students. The charity wants to impart vital knowledge to students about hospice care and believes the students can make a big difference to the lives of patients and help them make informed choices. Communication, learning to cope with difficult situations and manage symptoms to avoid hospital admission are all paramount.
Ash spent the first two weeks of her placement with ellenor with the homecare team, going out into the community caring for patients with life limiting illnesses. She also spent time on the hospice ward, learning the basics from washing and feeding patients through to the process of giving medication and sitting in on meetings with doctors and nurses.
Ash said: “I was involved in the handover meetings between shifts, and I was even able to communicate with patients and find out what they wanted to make them comfortable. I felt connected with them.”