GWH staff benefit from EXCEL training at the Great Western Hospital

September 2018

Care, Our Team

Prospect Hospice and the Great Western Hospital have joined forces to educate staff about palliative and end-of-life care with their ExcEL training programme.

The five day course was created to deliver good education to GWH staff about what the care involves, and how they can provide support to patients and their families. Staff learn about subjects such as symptom control, fatigue, breathlessness management and family and bereavement support. It includes a session at the hospice in Wroughton, delivered by a combination of our Education and Patient Services teams.

Karen Brown, Interim End-of-Life Lead at GWH, said “One of the barriers to palliative care is what people think it means. If a staff member has been to see it and been a part of it, they can more clearly articulate their experiences to a patient, and that can only be beneficial.”

Unlike at the hospice, end-of-life care can take ward staff at the hospital into unfamiliar situations. “Sometimes staff find it challenging caring for patients who are dying, and in this course they can talk openly about how they feel about it,” adds Karen. “Recognising that you are not alone, and finding that staff members from other wards are feeling the same way, is really helpful.” Ruth Alderton, Prospect Hospice’s Palliative Team Leader at GWH, agrees. “The nurses don’t always get a chance to reflect on the emotional side of their job, so we encourage staff to ask us if there is anything that they are unsure or concerned about – there is a lot of positive discussion and peer support.”

Another key benefit of ExcEL (Excellence in End-of-Life Care) is the implementation of knowledge by nominated staff, known as end-of-life champions, into their day-to-day practice. Karen recalls an example of a junior sister on the Cardiology Ward who, after attending the course, saw a need for staff to have easy access to vital information, such as what to do to help a patient get home speedily at the end of life, if that’s their preference.

Every ExcEL session is evaluated and each staff member is given feedback on their performance. They are also required to sit an exam 4-6 weeks after the course to test their knowledge, to see how much they’ve remembered – the aim is for staff to have a deeper understanding of what to do in an emotional situation as well as a practical one.

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