Kirkwood Hospice has teamed up with Huddersfield University to create an ‘end-of-life’ course to improve the care given to patients nearing the end of their lives.
The course, which centres on end-of-life care for local health and social care practitioners, is the first of its kind in the UK to link with a hospice.
A University spokesman said the course aimed to address the issue of poor end-of-life care which had been extensively featured in press reports.
Dr Nichola Barlow, from the University’s School of Human and Health Sciences, will be the course leader for the new postgraduate certificate in end-of-life care, with the first group of students starting this year. This will include members from the local acute trust, community trust, hospice, ambulance service and community therapists.
As well as learning from Dr Barlow’s expertise, the students will be educated by Jayne Bargh, a specialist palliative care nurse and clinical educator, who works at Kirkwood Hospice and is an expert in her field.
She said that the increased demands placed on healthcare practitioners has led to the need for a dedicated course.
“Hospice care is not always possible, appropriate or sometimes even wanted by the patient. They can often wish to remain in their own homes, which can place added pressure on the system,” she said.
“Also sadly appropriate training has been difficult to access for many so it is essential that we support and provide training for the clinical staff, who will be supporting the patients and their families, to ensure the best possible care is available to them and their loved ones in a variety of settings,” she added.
The course is part-time and will consist of two elements with the first being geared towards care delivery and managing difficult symptoms.
The University’s Dr Joanne Garside is the head of post-registration education in the school and said the course was an excellent demonstration of partnership working.
“Initially the students will be taught how to recognise when someone is dying and how to manage the associated signs and symptoms well,” said Dr Garside.
“They will also explore how to care and support the patients’ loved ones through this difficult time and to try and ensure that the patient has a comfortable and peaceful death,” she said.
Sarah Shaw, director of clinical services at Kirkwood Hospice, said that palliative and end-of-life care is increasingly becoming the centre of all health and social care policy.
She said: “Kirkwood Hospice in collaboration with the University of Huddersfield is committed to ensuring that palliative and end-of-life care education is available for all health and social care professionals, facilitating the transfer of policy into practice for the benefit of the patients who are cared for.”