The Quiet Heroes: How ellenor’s End of Life Training Courses Meet the Needs of England’s Care Professionals

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.

Knowledgeable Partnership

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.


“This is the first time that ellenor has offered support for professional carers on how the rise in deaths in the community has impacted on them ”, says Angela. “They see a lot of patients in very lonely circumstances, and – throughout the pandemic – the demands on their work have increased. Pressures have heightened, and these individual care providers are often not recognised as being key in managing to continue to provide care in the community.

“These carers – who are going in and out of houses, still carrying on their work, but never getting a mention – are the quiet heroes. Our learning programmes aim to concentrate on keeping them mentally stable and giving them support to deal with the feelings they’re going through. Here at ellenor, we’re lucky – we’re well supported in dealing with death. For carers, it’s very different.”

Communication, Loss, & Self-Care

The courses offered address three themes: communication, bereavement & loss, and wellbeing & self-care. All are free to attend.
We offer people ways to listen, to relax; we talk about wellbeing, resilience; how to look after yourself. And it’s a two-way process – we want to know how they’re feeling, too.

“What the aftermath of the pandemic has shown us is that mental health has been hugely affected. Staff at the ‘bottom of the pile’, so to speak, need support. That’s why we will help any healthcare professional, regardless of pay grade or role.

Just as crucial as the practical, mental, and theoretical components are to ellenor’s training courses, Angela is also quick to stress the importance of the emotional side of things, too – particularly when it comes to dealing with death.

“We’re teaching these professional carers to normalise death and dying.

"There are those who are scared to have this conversation, who’ll walk away from it – we’re encouraging them not to walk away, to stand and listen.”

Angela’s message to any healthcare professional considering enrolling in one of these training sessions with ellenor? Come in – it’s a two-way thing!

“Just as much as we want to teach you, we want to learn from you, as well; to open our doors. We can tell you about us, but we want to know about your organisation, too, and your needs around palliative care. We want to dismiss the myth that we only deal with death and dying. We are people who are genuinely interested in how others work – we care.”

Further Information

>View our Current Courses

Contact our Education team on 01474 320007 or email: