It was the quality care her father received from the community nursing team at St Christopher’s that inspired our new Visiting Lecturer Rosina Goldsmith to pursue a career in palliative care. Now, eight years since his death, Rosina is looking forward to sharing her passion for palliative care with health and social care assistants and home carers in Bromley.
Tell us about your experience and what you bring to the role of Visiting Lecturer at St Christopher’s CARE?
I qualified as a nurse 12 years ago after completing my degree at Bournemouth University and came back to London to work in Lewisham Hospital. More recently I worked at University College London Hospital (UCLH) as a Cancer Research Nurse. It was there I developed a passion for teaching. It was my job to educate staff about clinical trials so that they could help recruit people for the trials. That then led to my next role which saw me work for five years at UCLH with teenagers and young adults with Sarcoma. It was there that I really had to use and develop my skills in forming relationships and communicating with both the young people and their families, tackling very sensitive and challenging issues. I think being able to frame things through other people’s lens is one of my greatest strengths. In that role at UCLH I also had to mentor and teach some my colleagues and the undergraduate nurses. Since June 2019 I’ve been a Clinical Nurse Specialist here at St Christopher’s working in the community in Bromley, supporting people at home. Working with mostly older people now has helped me test and improve my communication skills even further.
What is it that inspires you to work in palliative care and particularly in the community? When I qualified, I imagined I was going to work in cardiology. Then my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He was under the care of St Christopher’s community team and died eight years ago. Seeing the care he received inspired me to work in oncology and palliative care and St Christopher’s is for me the gold standard.
What will be your focus as Visiting Lecturer and how do you see the role of education in palliative care? I am going to be focusing on delivering the Bromley ECHO sessions – our two Bromley Communities of Practice support mental health and learning disability services, nursing and residential homes and extra care housing in the borough – which incidentally has the oldest population in London. I am also going to be teaching Health and Social Care Assistants as well as newly qualified nurses, providing them with the skills to communicate with people at the end of life and their families. It is my absolute passion speaking to people about their end of life wishes. My patients often ask me what dying really looks and feels like and whether they will be in pain. These are things we don’t talk about nearly enough and it’s our job to provide people with information they want and need and to reassure them.
I think education is hugely important in palliative care. We need to empower more carers to feel comfortable having those sensitive conversations and to perform practical skills. In care homes, many of the staff are not nurses and they will need more and more support as increasing numbers of people die in the community and in care homes. We need to facilitate their learning, so they know what to do, and who to call.
How do you see your roles as a Clinical Nurse Specialist and visiting lecturer complementing each other? I think being clinically relevant and knowing what is going on in practice means we can gage what people’s learning needs are and help bridge that gap. I can encounter something while caring for someone on a Tuesday and bring that relevant experience to my teaching on a Wednesday. Is there one thing you think that would have benefitted from learning earlier in your career? To be comfortable in silence. Sometimes when I’m having a sensitive conversation and actually feel like filling the gap, I’ve learned to pause. It gives the person a safe space in which to explore their feelings and then say something. It works wonders.
What do you think makes a good educator and what do you hope to bring from your work as a Clinical Nurse Specialist to your lecturing? I’ve always found it an effective way to engage people, to draw on their experiences and relate that back to the topic. Everyone is always more interested if it’s something they can relate to. I love watching other people teach and working out what it is that makes them good teachers. I think the best teachers are collaborative and charismatic. I’ll try and bring those skills to my teaching.
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