12 January 2023

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Making connections

In her latest blog, Maaike Vandeweghe shares her learnings from the recent Hospice UK conference.

Hospice UK Conference Stand 2022

In my last blog I shared my excitement about the upcoming Hospice UK conference in Glasgow. Fourteen colleagues from St Christopher’s joined me there and between us we connected and re-connected with dozens of people. The three days really did provide a wonderful opportunity to grow our network, share our offer and plans as well as understand the issues coming down the track that we all need to prepare for.

Having a prominent stand at the conference gave us a great base and it was a good focus for people to come and find out more about what we do at St Christopher’s CARE. What was really heartening was hearing from numerous people how our new programmes like the Lantern Model and Palliative Discovery have fulfilled an unmet need. Many commented on the sense of community offered and range of topics covered by Palliative Discovery, our learning and support programme for Clinical Nurse Specialists. While I also received lots of positive feedback about the Lantern Model programme – in particular, how it’s helped nurses in their clinical practice and especially how it’s changed the way they run their multi-disciplinary meetings. This validated our strong sense that the Lantern Model should be woven across and offers a great foundation for our entire nursing offer going forward.

Equally pleasing was the range of talented and interested people from a range of expertise who wanted to come and speak at our conferences and events. We’ll be booking them in as soon as possible.

Perhaps the most interesting and revealing conversations I had were with hospice CEOs and directors of education. The common theme running through many of those chats was lack of resources and a sense of isolation, how they feel like they’re working in a vacuum and how many were working separately to create the same content. I am convinced that the future of palliative care education needs to be more efficient and to make that happen we need to work together more generously and collaboratively. Let’s leave behind the days of preciousness and protectiveness. I’ll be looking to build on these conversations in the new year. Why couldn’t there perhaps be a successful education hub model where much more content is shared?

My final takeaway from the conference relates to the content of the programme. It underlined for me how we all, everyone working in the palliative care sector, has to be digging deeper. Sessions covering issues like poverty, race equity and how we work with trans and non-binary communities were absolutely in line with the theme of Finding a Way Forward, and reassured me that our programme for 2023 is pointed in the right direction. But we need to go further. faster, to listen and learn more if we are truly to empower people to extend quality end of life care to all in the years ahead. In my next blog I’ll be able to share with you my experiences from a teaching trip in Bangladesh.

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