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Hertfordshire team teaches nurses end of life care skills

Initiative aims to educate staff in core competencies

District nurses and therapy staff in Hertfordshire are being trained to improve care for patients at the end of their lives.

The new Macmillan Palliative/End of Life Care Education Project team at Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust. Front to back: Kemi Koleoso, Macmillan Clinical Education Project Lead, Julia Gay, Clinical Educator, Sarah Thompson, Clinical Educator and Lesley Sayliss, Clinical Educator for Allied Health Professionals

A team comprising of three nurses and one physiotherapist is delivering the training, which is a joint initiative with Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust. The scheme is being funded for two years by Macmillan Cancer Support.

Macmillan nurse and clinical education project lead Kemi Koleoso said: ‘Hertfordshire is a huge geographic area with two clinical commissioning groups and five hospices. Previously the training was ad hoc.’

The team travels around the county offering training sessions to nursing and therapy staff in the community. Ms Koleoso said: ‘Some staff were not recognising end of life care as part of their role, but we are making dying everyone's business.

‘For example, a podiatrist might see a patient once every three months. We will train them to recognise if a person is deteriorating – they can then signpost the patient in the right direction for advanced care planning. The idea is that we will not be working in silos anymore.’

She added: ‘All staff are being trained in having difficult conversations when they recognise someone is deteriorating, which includes asking people whether they have plans in place. Carers may not have picked up that this person is at the end of their life.

‘People might see this as taking away hope, but this is about staff learning to give control to patients before it is too late.

‘We are trying to increase staff confidence in end of life care. People think it is a specialist role – but we all have a part to play.’

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