Having worked at St Christopher’s for almost two decades, Rev Andrew Goodhead, brings a wealth of experience to his new role as a Visiting Lecturer in St Christopher’s CARE. In this interview Andrew shares the value he places in treating people as a person with a need rather than a patient and in instilling his educational content with enthusiasm.
You have another role at the hospice – tell me about that and how it will bring to your new role as Visiting Lecturer?
I came to St Christopher’s as Spiritual Care Lead in 2005 and have been here for 16 years. For the last two years I have been working in the patient and family services department managing the psychosocial teams. Then in September 2021 I became lead for bereavement, spiritual care and quality, covering the full range of pastoral, religious and spiritual needs. As part of the quality element of the job description, I’m reviewing how we receive and act on feedback. This will involve setting up a service user experience group made up of patients, carers and members of the public.
What is it about working in palliative and end of life care that appeals to you?
I had been working for many years as a Methodist Minister and was looking for new opportunities. In my various roles at St Christopher’s, I’ve been lucky to work with engaging colleagues and importantly provide pastoral and spiritual care for patients and carers – while doing much less admin than I had to while working for the church. I enjoy supporting patients and their families navigate their way through challenging times, in a non-medical way, being someone they can approach to answer the existential questions, like ‘why is this happening to me’ or ‘what’s happening to my family’.
What will be your focus as Visiting Lecturer and how do you see the role of education in palliative care?
We’re in the process of developing my role as Visiting Lecturer and it has the potential to take in quite a lot of different things. It will include ensuring that the library in St Christopher’s CARE has the best possible facilities and resources for people looking to do research. Something else that will fall to me is to reintroduce the Friday visits which we had to pause during the pandemic. Historically these have mostly been aimed at professionals, giving the local health and social care workforce the chance to come and visit us and find out more about the services we offer. We’re looking to extend these days to include a broader range of options for patients, families, people considering volunteering, and the wider public.
Given my wider role at the hospice and my deeper knowledge of spirituality and pastoral care, I’m planning to create some really engaging educational content around bereavement, including a conference.
What do you think makes a good educator and what do you hope to bring from your current work to your lecturing?
I think enthusiasm is the key. To create engaging and challenging educational experiences you have to be interested in what you’re doing and communicate that to the learners.
Is there one thing you think that would have benefitted from learning earlier in your career?
Definitely, that no question is the wrong question, so long as it’s asked in the right way with the right intentions. I’ve learned that it’s ok to say, ‘this might be a difficult question but…’ and then ask what could be a tricky question. We can hide between things like assessment tools and never allow who we really are to come through. By showing people you have time for them and really treat them as a person who has a need, rather than a patient is so important.