Meet Sergio Damaso, our new visiting lecturer

Sergio has the knowhow to make the most of Knowhow

14 December 2021


New Visiting Lecturer Sergio has the knowhow to make the most of Knowhow

rb SergioDamaso st christophers hospice sept rachel manns
Sergio is a Clinical Nurse Specialist at St Christopher’s

Tell us a bit the experience you bring to your role as a Visiting Lecturer at St Christopher’s CARE

After training as a nurse in my home country, Portugal, I worked in the National Cancer Institute in Lisbon on surgical oncology wards. When I moved to the UK in 2012, I initially worked in a number of private hospitals.

I made the switch to hospice care 5 years ago– initially at St Joseph’s in East London. It was while working there that I started to explore different skills and passions. I was always taught by my parents to be self-sufficient and I wanted to pass this on to others. I’ve always understood that if you want to eat you have to learn to cook.

I then joined St Christopher’s where I’ve also managed one of the wards and now work in the community. For me, a key part of the role of a CNS is educating, not just the practical skills of nursing but the wider concepts of the role.

What is it that inspires you to work in palliative care and particularly in the community?

My experience on the wards in Portugal and again in the hospitals in the UK involved seeing a lot of people die badly and that left me feeling very uncomfortable. I didn’t want this recurring theme to continue for the rest of my working days. I also had personal experience of my mother caring for my grandparents at the end of their lives to drive me on to ensure people receive the best possible care.

What will be your focus as Visiting Lecturer and how do you see the role of education in palliative care?

I am so excited about my teaching role at St Christopher’s CARE as I am going to be developing our skills lab – Knowhow. I think a key part of this will be building a bridge between the practical and the clinical. More than anything else, I would like to see us use this fantastic space to showcase what we do best here at St Christopher’s. By sharing that we are looking to the future, helping to share knowledge and create a valuable, lasting legacy. I see Knowhow as a place of expertise where pioneers can experiment and people can experience. While learning how to fit a catheter and take blood or set up a syringe driver is very important, I think there is an opportunity to demonstrate the psychosocial and spiritual skills required in palliative care.

As an example, St Christopher’s is renowned for its quality of personal care. This should be branded and shared. Repositioning a bedbound immobile frail elderly patient is about so much more than just applying a sliding sheet and turn them. It’s about really being with that person and communicating with them. It is something that can definitely be taught through role play and feedback. Doing it in Knowhow means people will be in a safe place rather than having to do it on a ward or in someone’s home.

I’ve also got plans to use virtual reality in a really exciting way. I think this role will fit me like a glove.

Is there one thing you think that would have benefitted from learning earlier in your career?

How to communicate better with people. If I had, I would have brought people on board with my vision quicker. I have now reached an age where I see life differently and understand that I can leave a legacy. By communicating with people better hopefully one day people will say that I was the guy who shared with them something valuable.

What do you think makes a good educator and what do you hope to bring from your work as a CNS to your lecturing?

I think a good educator has to be a practical person and an excellent communicator with genuine insight. It’s not just about knowledge of the subject, it also requires a holistic vision and an understanding of the legacy you want to leave. Preparing people to think and act independently is really important as an educator.

From my work as a CNS I think I bring my understanding that it’s by asking questions and listening to people you help people to learn more, and you learn more yourself. If you allow people to reflect and ensure you start from what they already know rather than just stick to a two hour pre-prepared lecture, they’ll respond much better. I’ve learned that you have to consider where people are on their journey and be flexible about your approach.

14 December 2021

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