On Thursday 1 June, we held a celebration event here at Rowcroft to recognise our end-of-life care ambassador graduates and to showcase their inspiring community projects which have been designed to improve and influence end-of-life care in their place of work.
Launched in 2018, the end-of-life care programme is led by Rowcroft’s Education Team, in collaboration with the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trusts End-of-Life Care Team.
A variety of graduates
Ambassadors enter the programme with a desire to improve and influence end-of-life care in their work setting with the full support of their manager and organisation. Our ambassadors work across all local settings and organisations including the NHS, care homes, community and in hospice care, in a variety of health and social care roles.
An inspiration to our community
“These ambassadors inspire others to improve, achieve, to be active change agents and to champion great end-of-life care in our locality, and we are proud to lead it,” said Rowcroft’s Head of Education, Kerry Macnish.
“The annual programme of five study days at Rowcroft Hospice is based on the five priorities for the care of those at the end of life.
“As part of their quality improvements, each ambassador designs a work-based project and holds an event for the annual ‘Dying Matters’ initiative. These are then presented to our communities on their final day of celebration. The range of achievements are many and varied.”
Using knowledge learned to make a difference
End-of-Life Care Ambassador and Torbay Hospital Healthcare Assistant Ryan Parker created a comfort room as part of his work-based project, with the aim to build a calming and comforting space for patients and their loved ones to relax in when needed.
“Myself and our shared governance team decided to set up a well-needed comfort room in the Warrington Ward at Torbay Hospital and we’re currently in the process of setting up another one, due to how in-demand the first one has been. As a team, we’re so proud of what we’ve created – there’s a sofa bed so that families and loved ones can stay close to the patient overnight; we’ve had artwork donated by local artists to help create a calm and relaxing environment; and we’re also installing an Alexa so people can listen to music. We’ve had so much amazing feedback about the comfort room so far. I think that every ward needs one!”
Important lessons in end-of-life care
Ryan said: “The most important thing I’ve learned from the programme is about symptom control. I didn’t realise how many options there were to help people feel more comfortable at the end of life. I’ve learned a lot which has helped me identify what the patient might need, and I can communicate with our nurses for certain prescriptions to ensure that the patient is comfortable.”
An eye-opening experience
“Taking part in the programme has been an amazing experience and the Education Team have been excellent. It’s made me think about what I want to do in the future and it’s opened my eyes to the end-of-life care career route. I now know that my heart is with end-of-life care, thanks to this programme.”
Kieron George, Healthcare Assistant at Rowcroft Hospice and End-of-Life Care Ambassador Graduate said: “The programme has been amazing – the networking has been really good and it’s helped my confidence a lot. When I first started it, I was anxious about talking to people and putting myself out there, but to have a safe environment where you can talk amongst people that you’ve got to know over a course of time has been really good.”
Kieron’s project involved improving end-of-life care for LGBTQ+ patients which included creating a resource folder for the Inpatient Unit, and for our Hospice at Home and Community Teams. He said: “The Education Team at Rowcroft are amazing – they do everything in a fun, easy and understandable way, nothing feels like a task. It doesn’t feel like you’re here on a long day of learning; it just feels like you’re here with friends and you pick stuff up along the way, I think it’s really good. It’s a great platform and an amazing environment to teach people in as well.”
Community Occupational Therapist and End-of-Life Care Ambassador Graduate Maria Palfrey said: “I think the programme is amazing and invaluable. Just to be able to come here in this environment and network with people is just brilliant and the knowledge that they have on the end of life is just amazing. It was a really nice experience.”