Today is UNESCO International Day of Education, designed to celebrate the role of education for peace and development. This year’s theme is ‘Changing Course and Transforming Education’ and this worldwide aspiration talks of rebalancing relationships and our connections with our planet, nature and technology.
Here Kerry Macnish, Rowcroft’s Head of Education, shares her thoughts on how Rowcroft’s education programme in South Devon might impact on these themes and how the pandemic has influenced our education transformation.
“Practically speaking, our blended approach has increased accessibility to our education programme,” says Kerry. “Many new health and social professionals have joined our new online teaching workshops and courses, some from outside Rowcroft’s area. Less car travel to our Torquay site contributes to reductions in pollution and congestion and gives people more time in their workplace or sitting room (staff attending on time off). Our teaching team rapidly learned how to manage the technology of a zoom classroom and still enable most people to have a meaningful learning experience and we are proud to offer a consistent ‘go to’ place for palliative and end-of-life care – of being our ‘community beacon’.
“What about the societal changes that UNESCO World Education Day would wish us to impact upon? How is our little part of the world rebalancing relationships? At the outset of COVID, many hospices noted more people started talking openly about dying and sharing their fears about their mortality. Some declaring their wishes if they contracted COVID and others adjusting plans when choices were not possible (those final goodbyes too sudden and often in isolation from loved ones). These mortal conversations were not always prepared for and became forced, rushed, poignant and brutal.
“As a nurse I know our best teachers are our patients and their loved ones. As an educator, our best teachers are our learners. We ask all our learners ‘what they have done with their learning?’ and here are four quotes demonstrating some impacts from our workshops:
- ‘I managed to get a lady home in just a few hours as she wanted to die at home. I used the learning resources gained from a recent training session.’
- ‘I now ask people “what matters to you most”’?
- ‘I attended the Communication in Dementia course and it enabled me to look beyond the behaviour that is being presented by an individual, allowing me to try to understand what the individual is trying to communicate.’
- ‘I explained that a patient was sick enough that he might die – however, although this is still a palliative incurable disease, he is also well enough to pick up and have more time especially with more treatment…..
‘I supported him with organising his Will and affairs, thinking about organising a more permanent care system for his wife who had dementia, as he was her main carer. I double guessed myself on doing this initial conversation and how realistic to be with him, however we achieved all of the above and he passed away a week later.’
“It has been said that ‘nothing makes us change like pain’. We are all living with our own bereavement and loss experiences and transformations that result. So whatever rebalancing we can achieve, Rowcroft and its education programme can be a constant for some.
“We will continue to promote openness about death and dying, offering honest, useful, and sensitive workshops about planning in advance, decision-making and communication skills, grief, symptom relief and care. We can contribute learning and insights that increase the confidence of others to transform relationships for those receiving care in our community.
“We are responding and transforming our education programme for our small and amazing community in this context of rapid re-organisation whilst we rebalance, adjust and absorb our changing course.”
For further information about Rowcroft’s education programme, please see our education pages.