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Hospices working collaboratively to improve end of life care training in south London

Author: Berit Moback, Project Manager, South London Hospice Education Collaborative
15 July 2015
  • QELCA at St Christopher's Hospice

In south London, adult and children’s hospices are working together to provide a range of training for their own staff and volunteers as well as other local health and social care professionals. Project manager Berit Moback tells us more:

In 2013 hospices in south London started discussing how they could efficiently utilise their resources and expertise to meet the increased need for training, as highlighted in the Neuberger and Staffordshire reports (2013).

This is the first time these hospices have formally collaborated at this level and extent. With the formation of the South London Hospice Education Collaborative (SLHEC), there is now joint planning, delivery and evaluation of five training programmes.

The aims of SLHEC are to:

  • utilise all knowledge, expertise and education and training resources efficiently
  • reduce duplication of training/education development and delivery
  • ensure all training and education is quality assured and accredited whenever possible
  • ensure training is transferable across south London and, whenever possible, nationally
  • submit proposals for funding using the full range of resource from specialist palliative care providers
  • influence the development and implementation of the Health Education South London End of Life Care Education and Training Strategy
  • develop links with CEPNs (Community Education Provider Networks) and other Strategic Networks
  • identify and respond to new opportunities to develop new products in the education market.

In 2014-15 SLHEC received funding from Health Education South London to deliver and evaluate five training projects:

QELCA© (Quality End of Life Care for All)

Designed by St Christopher’s Hospice, QELCA is a course for health and social care practitioners from acute, community or care home settings to lead on the delivery of high quality care to patients and families at the end of life.

QELCA is offered by six hospices and has been delivered to healthcare staff in community trusts, care homes, acute trust and prisons.

The course is run over five days and includes practical (participating and observing) and theoretical (listening and debating) learning activities. Participants spend two days working alongside hospice staff, interspersed with three days working with an expert educational facilitator.

At the end of the week the learners develop an action plan, the implementation of which is supported by action learning in the workplace. To maximise the learning potential the group is small with only four to six participants from the same organisation.

The course is currently being evaluated by the lead researcher at Princess Alice Hospice.

Volunteer training

The hospices have developed a standardised model of training for people who are volunteering in patient/client facing roles in the hospice sector, with a view to making this available to other (non-hospice) organisations working in health/social care.

The training consists of 10 sessions over 14 hours and, to a large extent, reflects the 15 standards set by the National Care Certificate.

A pilot with 95 volunteers was completed in May 2015 and, if further funding is confirmed, the course will continue to be provided to reach a wider number of volunteers.

The courses are being evaluated by the volunteers and the trainers.

Level 5 diploma for assistant practitioners (Band 4)

The SLHEC is delivering the City & Guilds Level 5 diploma for assistant practitioners in healthcare in conjunction with Croydon College.

This a vocational apprenticeship course for healthcare assistants to prepare them for a Band 4 post. It is a two-year course with 35 study days/year at Croydon College. The modules are being taught by Croydon College and clinicians from all the hospices. 

The course started in March 2015 with 22 learners from the adult and paediatric hospices and one care home.

The learners are evaluating each module and the impact of the course has also been discussed in a focus group. The learners are very engaged with all the modules and have already noticed changes in practice, for example, taking part in MDT meetings and the developments of guidelines.

Level 3 diploma in health and social care (long-term conditions, frailty and end of life)

This training project is based on an existing Level 3 QCF diploma with a bolt-on module on long-term conditions and frailty. This course is being delivered jointly by St Christopher’s Hospice and Croydon College. Eighteen learners from hospices, as well as other employers, started this new course in February 2015.

National Care Certificate – accredited training delivered to care homes

SLHEC is supporting care homes to deliver the Care Certificate, with training delivered by participating hospices.

Twelve care homes have been selected for the pilot, with each care home offered training for one member of staff to achieve the QCF Level 3 Assessor Certificate.

The Care Certificate from St Christopher’s Hospice is accredited by City & Guilds and is currently only available through the St Christopher's City and Guilds Centre.

Benefits and challenges

The pooling of resources, expertise and local knowledge helps the hospices to deliver high quality training. It also means that a more sustainable model is being developed by ensuring mutual support. For example, learners applying to a course that is oversubscribed in one hospice can access an under-subscribed course delivered by another hospice.

The hospices vary in size of their operations and their facilities. This has been recognised in the development of each project and each hospice decides if they wish to participate in each proposed project. The decision to participate may also depend on the strategic priorities of each organisation. When a hospice decides not to actively engage in a particular project they are kept informed about the progress and, in many cases, they have some partial involvement.

Short-term funding is always difficult, particularly for hospices as they are smaller organisations than many education or healthcare providers and have fewer resources to draw from.

Throughout the last year, the challenging financial situation in the health service as a whole has had an impact on the delivery of some courses as many employers are finding it difficult to release staff for training where backfill funding is not provided.

Future plans

  • to disseminate evaluations of projects mentioned above
  • to ensure sustainability of well evaluated courses
  • to plan further training initiatives – our present focus is dementia training
  • to offer clinical placements to a range of trainees, such as paramedics
  • to plan the development of the hospice workforce, including joint mandatory training
  • to work closely with the Hospice UK Education Consortia
  • to continue to support the implementation of the South London End of Life Care Education & Training Strategy.

For further information about the SLHEC, email Beritvisit the website or follow them on Twitter (@SLHEC).

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