End of life care training 'not reaching everyone'

Royal College of Physicians audit reveals varied implementation of programmes at trusts in England

Training on end of life care is not reaching all nurses, according to new research that reinforces the need for better employer support in post-registration education.

Only 29% of trusts [39/136] provide nurses with mandatory training sessions on end of life care, according to a Royal College of Physicians (RCP) audit of trusts in England. 

The audit shows that while 96% of trusts [136/142] have a formal in-house education programme on end of life care, implementation is varied.

The audit echoes the results of an RCNi survey carried out last month, in which hundreds of nurses said they must use their annual leave to keep up to date with essential training requirements.

RCNi has launched the #1hour2empower campaign, which calls on all employers to pledge to give their nursing staff the equivalent of one hour a month to undertake continuing professional development (CPD).

RCN professional lead for long-term conditions and end of life care Amanda Cheesley said many nurses report that training is often hard to take part in due to staffing and other issues.

The RCP audit revealed that communication skills training for end of life care was not available for more than a quarter of nurses.

Ms Cheesley said good communication skills training impacts on every aspect of care. ‘If you listen to people and hear what they are saying, you are going to get it right.’

Marie Curie nursing director Dee Sissons said she felt there had been ‘real improvement’ since the last audit in 2014, but that there are opportunities to do much more. ‘Everybody, from porters, to nurses to physiotherapists, will have contact with people who are approaching end of life. It is important that they are all equipped to support those who are dying in hospital,’ she said.

‘That 96% of trusts offered formal in-house training in end of life care is clearly great news, but it is unclear how many nurses are actually able to attend such training.

‘We’re getting better at recognising those people who are dying, but there is still some way to go to support staff in having sensitive and confident conversations with patients and their loved ones.’

A spokesperson for Health Education England said there were many excellent examples of healthcare providers sharing their skills through training arrangements – for example, an acute trust training hospice staff in cannulation and intravenous drug delivery, in return for hospice trainers delivering communication training.

‘This approach is enabling more staff to be trained and more sharing of skills across organisational boundaries.

‘Rotations, link or champion roles, and shadowing opportunities for staff support the development of skills, behaviours and attitudes,’ she added. ‘Ideally, these form part of employers’ workforce development planning.’

For more on the RCNi campaign go to www.rcni.com/1hour2empower

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