As the pandemic progressed throughout 2020, it began to highlight some key issues in healthcare.
With an increasing number of people dying in non-hospice environments (such as their own home, or in hospitals or care homes) the need for palliative care skills and knowledge has been growing.
Likewise, so too have the demands on care agency staff been increasing. Due to the pandemic, many of these professionals have been overworked, overburdened, and lack the training or skill set to deal with the dying patients under their care.
Is There an Answer?
According to Angela Cooke, the answer is education.
Angela is ellenor’s Practice Development Lead. Alongside Development Coordinator Sue Marshall, Angela runs training courses designed to both upskill ellenor’s own highly trained workforce, while also sharing the hospice charity’s vital knowledge with the wider healthcare community.
Of course, education has always been central to ellenor’s mission to provide and promote hospice care of the highest standards to those in need – something its strong record of involvement in administering training programmes nationally and internationally attests to. ellenor was also the first hospice in Kent to provide accredited end of life courses, thanks to its partnership with St Christopher’s and Croydon College, respectively.
But since the pandemic – and the limitations the subsequent restrictions placed on face-to-face learning – ellenor has had to adapt its approach. In June 2021, ellenor launched a series of modules via Zoom, to support external healthcare agencies and organisations with essential end of life training. The goal? To increase the knowledge, skills, and confidence of those delivering palliative care, particularly when the patients they’re supporting have learning disabilities or dementia.
ellenor’s palliative care experts work in tandem with fellow hospices Pilgrims and Heart of Kent – as well as the Kent Community Health and Foundation Trust – to deliver these courses. Regionally, ellenor also works with the Kent, Surrey, & Sussex Hospice Education Collaborative, and has been backed by both Health Education England and the NHS’ CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group).
While ellenor and its partners provide this education across a range of clinical and non-clinical settings, one of the most important audiences, Angela explains, has been professional carers. Following the initial COVID-19 outbreak of early 2020, the government identified that this group of workers were supporting large numbers of people at the end of their lives – but, moreover, that these carers’ needs were not being recognised or met.