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Learning with CARE: a new vision

Senior Educationalist Maaike Vandeweghe talks about her vision for St Christopher's CARE

15 January 2021

What’s your vision for St Christopher’s Centre for Awareness and Response to End of Life Care (CARE)?

Maaike Vandeweghe

It’s about making a space to explore living with dying and loss, beyond the formal education we deliver. I very much hope that St Christopher’s CARE will help us and everyone who engages with it, find the physical and mental space to consider our hopes, views and fears about death and dying. The pandemic has highlighted just how important it is to have an open dialogue about death, grief and loss. My vision is that this can be a space, both virtual and real, where we are brave enough to initiate conversations and allow people to share experiences, both good and bad, and provide them with the support and learning they need.

I am really excited about pushing the boundaries, being bold and brave and not just doing things because that’s what we’ve always done in the past.

The other part of my vision for St Christopher’s CARE relates to the people we engage with. I am committed to extending our reach, going beyond our existing audience and traditional partners. That means we have plans to work with prisons, schools, learning disability services, and homelessness organisations as well as the general public. By doing that we not only widen the conversation about death and dying but also make a difference to the care of even more people. The work we’re doing to support people with No Recourse to Public Funds is a good example of this.

How do you see yourself fulfilling that vision in your role as Senior Educationalist?

My role is key to creating and developing the space and the opportunities for learning for as many people as possible. My experience, both as a nurse and in teaching, will help me develop an offer to meet the widest possible needs, not just of professionals, but the general public too. I am really excited about pushing the boundaries, being bold and brave and not just doing things because that’s what we’ve always done in the past.

A big part of my role will be to listen and be prepared to be influenced by others because I certainly don’t know it all! To achieve that, we’ve already started creating strategic partnerships which might historically have been seen as unusual, such as our partnership with a homelessness charity for young people who have lost their grandparents. I see huge potential in opening up to the experience and knowledge these groups and individuals will bring and together, I believe, we can improve care for all, which is after all, our main aim.

Tell us about your philosophy of learning and education

Central to my view of education is collaboration. I want to be co-designing learning. I have an idea of what people want and need but we have to understand their learning needs better. I remember study days from which I only remember the patient stories – their lived experiences. It’s these first-hand accounts that can have real impact. Making them a core part of the offering will help us to take people on a learning journey, rather than just engage on a one-off basis.

I also want to ensure all the learning we provide is current and specific. Every session will be informed, applicable, relevant and compelling as well as informed by research. To achieve that, we’ll be collaborating even more closely with clinical colleagues from across the UK.  

I also want to ensure all the learning we provide is current and specific. Every session will be informed, applicable, relevant and compelling as well as informed by research.

In terms of methods of learning and delivery, the pandemic accelerated our move towards online learning. We’ve created a cohort of confident digital educators and this has enabled us to reach more people. Looking ahead, I’m excited about the prospect of further improving that online offer, as well as being able to go back to face to face too. In time, with the benefit of the cutting edge technology we have in the new centre we’ll be able to do both simultaneously. That really excites me.

You’ve been planning a new curriculum – what can St Christopher’s learners look forward to in 2021 and beyond?

From April onwards the curriculum will look increasingly different, with a broader, fresher look and feel. That means lots of opportunities for public engagement as well as a range of new products for professionals and the community including a new suite of dementia resources for the public and professionals, skills workshops and a regular webinar series focusing on topical issues like grief and loss.

As well as a refreshed core curriculum aimed at professionals, we’ll also offer a number of products designed to ensure enrichment for a wider audience.  Every month will have a new series or product.

Give us three highlights for the year ahead

  • Look out for a much bigger focus on frailty and dementia in the coming year as we aspire to become a centre of excellence on this hugely important issue
  • Two conferences: one on rehabilitative care and an arts conference in the autumn – Facing Death Creatively. This will explore how through painting, music and modelling, for example, we can open up the conversation around death and dying by enabling people to express their feelings without words
  • A wide range of practical skills workshops using our brand-new skills lab.
15 January 2021

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