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The key to St Christopher’s CARE

CARE Business Manager Dion Bachmann talks about St Christopher’s Centre for Awareness and Response to End of Life Care (CARE)

PUBLISHED
21 December 2020

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

Dion Bachmann
Dion Bachmann

We wanted St Christopher CARE to be a place that was inviting and welcoming. More than 50 years since we opened, we still have people in the community who won’t come and visit us simply because they see the hospice as a place to die.

We need to dispel that myth. We wanted a space that created areas within it where you could have quiet conversations, to develop an atmosphere that would mean you enjoyed the experience and wanted to come back.

The key to St Christopher’s CARE is that we have the same philosophy as we do when it comes to providing clinical support. That means just as we treat the whole person when supporting people at the end of life, we also take a holistic approach to everyone who visits St Christopher’s CARE. It’s not just about delivering excellent training.

The architects, Mills Power, bought into this ethos from day one. They quizzed staff, visitors and speakers about the thing that most irritated them about the old education centre and looked to respond to that, demonstrating that they really understood that we wanted this place to be somewhere people wanted to come and learn, for sure, but for a rounded, enjoyable experience too. So, if you come to a training session at the end of a busy week, you’ll want a coffee and a warm welcome and we’ll endeavour to provide that.

What excites you about the building?

Where do I start? In terms of the building itself, the physical space that we’ve managed to create. I think it’s a great mix of large, open, light and airy welcoming spaces, with smaller, more intimate spaces that lend themselves to quiet contemplation, reading and small group sessions. With lots of glass, visitors will always feel close to the beautiful, landscaped garden too.

As well as the main lecture theatre, kitted out with all the latest Audio-Visual equipment, that can be used for at least 120 people, or be divided into smaller spaces, we have a number of other rooms and spaces designed for a variety of functions. We’ve got the facilities to record podcasts and webinars in any of the rooms. We could even live stream events around the world!

These learning opportunities won’t be limited to clinicians. We want family carers to learn and become more confident in looking after a family member at the end of life.

I’m really excited about the Skills Lab. As the name suggests this room will be used to demonstrate practical clinical skills like using a syringe driver or how to move someone safely in a bed without hurting you or them. With cameras fitted all around  and a hospital-style bed and other equipment we’ll be able to give learners an immersive experience – one which can potentially become even more immersive as we  consider Virtual Reality.

These learning opportunities won’t be limited to clinicians. We want family carers to learn and become more confident in looking after a family member at the end of life.

The building is also designed to be environmentally friendly – naturally ventilated and temperature regulated. There’s also a planted roof which we hope will be an ideal spot for events.

What can St Christopher’s CARE help you do that you couldn’t before?

I’ve always been passionate about the potential for education to have a powerful impact and to increase our reach – to improve care of the dying and change opinions about death and dying. Now, we have the space and the technology, as well as the leadership team to deliver on that for the benefit, not just of the people here in south east London, but around the world.  

St Christopher’s can’t care for everyone dying everywhere. But now with St Christopher’s CARE we are really well placed to be able to train people across the world to do it.

With the variety of different spaces there’s the opportunity to make this a wonderful resource for the whole community, somewhere for local groups to meet and hold activities, whether that’s yoga sessions, art exhibitions or book clubs.

St Christopher’s can’t care for everyone dying everywhere. But now with St Christopher’s CARE we are really well placed to be able to train people across the world to do it.

What can people look forward to in 2021?

Launching with the Connect with CARE webinar series is a perfect way to start the year and to introduce people to what we’re trying to do here. The series, which will become the annual curtain-raiser for the upcoming year, is designed to appeal to everyone with an interest in palliative and end of life care, from any perspective, whether that’s the historical legacy, the future of nursing, community outreach or simply the calendar of diverse learning opportunities in the following 12 months.

I want people to come on a journey with us – not just attend a training session. Yes, of course this is a place to learn, but it’s also a place to be.

PUBLISHED
21 December 2020

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We have a well-established programme of high quality, cutting-edge, specialist palliative care education, designed for those working in the UK and internationally.
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