24 March 2023
How Palliative Discovery re-centred me
Senior palliative care nurse Annette Redwood describes how Palliative Discovery has boosted her career as a hands-on nurse and as an educator
How and why did you get involved with Palliative Discovery?
“In March 2022 I started a 12-month secondment at Wirral Hospice St John’s as Clinical Education Facilitator/Quality Improvement Lead. This was a new role for me. I had been working as a community palliative care Clinical Nurse Specialist for Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust. That role had included some teaching, mostly of the district nurses, but I also had daily contact with patients out in the community – constantly having to play Miss Marple, trying to identify what’s going on in every visit so you can make a difference to that patient at that moment in time and in planning for the future. I’d done some education years previously in my job at Wirral University Hospital Trust as an Upper GI/HPB Liver Macmillan Nurse. Back then I’d felt like it was a lot of pressure on top the day job. It wasn’t until I was working out in the community that I realised how much I enjoyed that part of the job.
“So when I started at the hospice, I did two things – one was to really quiz the ward nurses and manager on what training and education they wanted, and the other was to really investigate what education other hospices were providing. That’s when I came across Palliative Discovery at St Christopher’s. I hoped it would really help me, both in upskilling myself and then also cascading that learning down to the wards to support the staff.”
How has Palliative Discovery helped you in your current role?
“I’ve found Palliative Discovery very helpful in two main ways. It’s been brilliant for keeping my skills up to date, but crucially it’s also helped me with my reflective practice – getting me to probe how I work.
“I was looking for something that would help me pass that learning on to the nurses on the wards and community setting here at the hospice and that’s exactly what I have been able to do – attend the sessions, learn the skills, enrich my practice and then share that knowledge with nurses here.
“The teaching style has really suited me too. There are always opportunities to discuss and share which means you don’t have to get it first time, instead we share practice and that’s how you learn, picking up nuggets of information and different ways of doing things, that’s what helps you to identify new ways of working.
“As part of my role I established an induction programme for new staff. I’ve been able to pass on the learning and resources I gained from Palliative Discovery to these new team members to help them learn more about palliative care. I’ve also been able to share knowledge and insights through mentoring and shared conversations.”
What do you think it has given you for the role you’re returning to?
“One of my concerns about going back to my role as a CNS in the community was that I wouldn’t have seen any patients for a year and that I would have lost that connection and have been out of touch with day to day nursing skills. Palliative Discovery has ensured I have kept up to date with my clinical knowledge. In fact, I feel even more prepared to go back as I’ve learned more skills – around things like symptom control. I am better equipped and feel well-placed for passing that learning on to colleagues out in the community too.”
In what way does Palliative Discovery stand out from other learning programmes you’ve been involved in?
“It’s not like other education courses, you can’t just sit there and listen, and occasionally switch off. You’re constantly being engaged in break-out groups and having to brainstorm ideas and to share practices, challenges and solutions. Everyone has always been very willing to share and also to admit when they don’t know the answer.
“Another valuable part of Palliative Discovery has been making connections with other nurses all round the country and realising that you are not alone and that the people are sharing the same challenges and there is uniformity of practice. Everyone has been so generous with their knowledge and their experience, and I know I will keep in touch with people and ask for help when I need it. I know I felt, and I think others did too, like it was a pathway of learning or course of development more than a normal course and that meant I was prepared to invest in it more deeply. That led to a feeling of a kind of ‘education family’, in the same way that you might have a ‘work family’.”
What did you think of the quality of the programme and the speakers?
“I wanted to say a massive thank-you to everyone who’s involved as I could see just how much time, energy and resources went into it. The passion came through for everyone who was attending. At a time when we are all so stretched in so many different directions it was uplifting to see people still wanting to provide the best possible care in the best possible way and that taking the time to share this common goal. The knowledge, updates and reflective practice have re-centred me.”
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