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A full learning package at St Christopher’s Hospice Multi-Professional Week

Author: Fazle-Noor Biswas, Department of Palliative Medicine, BSMMU, Bangladesh
27 November 2017
  • Multi-Professional Week bursary students with St Christopher's Hospice Education Centre staff.

It was a great opportunity for me to attend the Multi-Professional Week (MPW) training at St. Christopher’s Hospice from 18 to 29 September 2017.

The programme was facilitated by Liz Bryan, Director of Education and Training, Dr Alison Landon, locum consultant in palliative medicine; and Julia Mannin, principal social worker, with multi-professional expertise from other St. Christopher’s Hospice staff.

MPW gives the opportunity for professionals from health and social care disciplines, new to palliative care and from different countries, to explore together the key principles and current issues related to palliative and end of life care practice.

A total of 16 participants took part in this year's programme. It was truly a multi-professional batch! Among the delegates, seven were nurses, four were physicians, there was one clinical pharmacist, one social worker, one psychologist, one physiotherapist and one occupational therapist from 12 different parts of the world, including: Australia, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Brazil, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand and UK. Five participants, myself included, received a bursary from St Christopher’s Education Centre.

The whole training took place over two weeks. The first consisted of theoretical classes and the second was for clinical observation at St Christopher’s Hospice for the bursary students.

Interesting and informative theoretical classes

The first few days of the theoretical sections included setting the scene, principles of palliative care in practice, psychosocial issues in palliative care, modelling services and self directed learning.

Each session was very informative and interesting. In short, it was a ‘full learning package’. The sessions I enjoyed the most included: history of St Christopher’s Hospice, principles of palliative care, developing a palliative care service, social and psychological issues of the patients and their families, pain control, symptom control, and challenging conversations in palliative care.

Another interesting session was ‘creative arts and complementary therapies’, facilitated by Tamsin Dives and Sarah Guyan, Complementary Therapy Leads at St Christopher’s. They divided the large MP group into two small groups.

One group went with Tamsin Dives for art therapy class and second group with Sarah Guyan for relaxation therapy class.

I was in the art therapy group. In the art therapy class, the facilitator gave us a topic, which was: ‘Where are you standing at this moment in life?’ and told us to draw a picture on the given topic.

Everybody tried their best to draw a picture. I drew the picture of sunshine. At that moment, I felt that I was a very bad artist. But I also felt the importance of art therapy in palliative care.

Large and small group discussions took place throughout the MP week, and contributed important impact of the training. On the second day, we had a hospice tour and grand dinner with the course tutors and other staff of the St Christopher’s Hospice.

At the weekend, we had the opportunity to attend an international conference on: 'Sharing Experience of Global Palliative Care', held at Sobell House Hospice, Oxford, on 23 September, organised by Palliative Care Works. 

I gave a presentation, sharing my experience of a St Christopher’s bursary student. I also had the opportunity to meet with many UK and international palliative care experts.

Clinical placement

From 25 to 29 September, myself and the other bursary students were placed to do clinical observation at St Christopher’s hospice.

On the first day of the placement I met with Margaret Gibbs, a senior hospice pharmacist, and we went together to attend the MDT (Multi Disciplinary Team) meeting at 9am.

I am very grateful to Margaret, as she gave me a copy of British National Formulary (BNF), and a copy of Symptom Management Guidelines for paediatric and adult patients.

On the same day, in the afternoon, I attended a training class on dementia in the lecture theatre of St Christopher’s education centre. It was very informative, and I learned many new things about dementia.

Over the next two days, I was placed in the Alex and Rugby wards for MDT meeting, ward round, and pain round. I also visited the St. Christopher’s Hospice, Bromley site with Dr Victor Pace, consultant in palliative medicine.

On 28 September I was placed in the outpatient clinic to meet with Mrs Lafferty who is a clinical nurse prescriber and we gave follow-up to one patient. Then in the last day of the clinical observation week I visited a bereaved family and one nursing home with the Sydenham community team.

Bursary students presentations

29 September was our last day of the training and after lunch break each of the bursary students gave presentations on specific topics.

I felt very glad that I got the opportunity to present my country, Bangladesh, in front of many international palliative care experts. My topic was ‘The current situation of palliative care services and opioid availability in Bangladesh’.

At the end of the presentation session, St Christopher’s Education Centre gave each of us a copy of a book about Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement. I want to say thank you to Dion Bachmann, Education Business Manager and Bernadette Corrigan, Education Course Coordinator of St Christopher's Hospice for coordinating and managing the overall course and for their support to every participant.

In one sentence, I had a great experience during this St Christopher’s tour in the UK. I realised that there is no difference in the suffering of patients and their family members between Bangladesh and UK or in other countries of the world, apart from the language and style of the expression.

I would like to recommend to all other palliative care professionals that they attend this Multi-Professional Week training at St Christopher’s Hospice which is held in September of every year.

For more detail, visit the St Christopher’s Education Centre website.

Fazle-Noor Biswas, is a palliative care pharmacist at the Department of Palliative Medicine, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Bangladesh.

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