Beth Britton, one of three consultants on our Dying to Talk Project, reflects on her experiences of supporting the delivery of Phase 1 end of life training for MacIntyre staff.
Having worked with MacIntyre since 2013 and visited over 30 services, one of the key themes over the years has been how in-depth training for staff in end of life care planning and delivery was very much needed, as well as wanted, by staff.
With this in mind, it was fantastic when MacIntyre were awarded funding from the National Lottery for our Dying to Talk Project https://www.macintyrecharity.org/news-blogs/macintyre-secures-funding-for-ground-breaking-project/, which in Phase 1 has aimed to deliver (in our pilot areas of Derbyshire, Leicester, Worcestershire and Herefordshire) increased knowledge of end of life care for 100 MacIntyre staff.
What has Dying to Talk training for staff involved?
We’ve delivered training for staff over 3 sessions, held on Zoom due to COVID restrictions.
- Session 1 introduced end of life care and looked at words, language and how to talk about death and dying.
- Session 2 looked at documentation and advanced care planning, providing the best support and working with families.
- Session 3 covered care in the last days and hours of life, loss, change and grief, care after death and sharing stories and remembering.
I supported the delivery of Sessions 2 and 3 on the topics of ‘Providing the Best Support’ and ‘Loss, Change and Grief’, as well as observing Session 1 so that I had an overview of everything covered within the training. We were joined in Session 3 by Caroline Loxton from Willen Hospice to share her expertise on ‘Care in the last days and hours of life’, which was hugely valuable for staff.
Our approach to training staff about death and dying
As a team we’ve been mindful from the outset that death and dying is a difficult topic for many staff to discuss. It has been of the utmost importance to us as a team that all of the training we’ve delivered has been supportive for staff, and held in an environment of open discussion to help participants learn from each other as well as the Project team.
Feedback from a training participant:
“Thank you, today's session made me realise that there is a lot of support from MacIntyre if I ever felt I needed it to support someone at end of life.”
Unexpected positives following the training sessions
Reflecting on the sessions we’ve run so far, I’ve been struck by how staff feel the sessions have supported them in their personal lives.
Our primary intention was to help staff feel more equipped to talk about, plan for and provide care and support relating to a person’s end of life in their professional roles within MacIntyre, but we have managed to provide a significant amount of pastoral and wellbeing support for staff who are coming to terms with grief and bereavement personally too. For me, this has been an unexpected but hugely positive outcome.
Feedback on the training from a recently bereaved MacIntyre staff member:
“I really enjoyed the training, and it made me feel so much better knowing I did everything on the training to give my husband a good death.”
All of the feedback we’ve received so far has proved how important it is to talk about death and dying with staff. Now we widen the reach of the Project to include the people MacIntyre support, families and health professionals.
Before this Phase 2 work begins, we will be providing some more intensive guidance to staff teams to ensure that they can support the delivery of Phase 2 within their services. Once Phase 2 begins, the Project team will remain in regular contact with all staff involved to make sure that they are fully supported.
Phase 2 will involve staff (alongside the Project team) working one-to-one, or in small groups, with people supported in a variety of different ways, with materials provided by the Project team that will be tailored to the individual needs of the people supported. Key to the success of this will be ensuring that we are working in ways that make sense to each person supported, and at a pace that allows them to meaningfully engage with this work.
I’m excited to see how this next phase of the Dying to Talk Project evolves, and I thank MacIntyre staff for all they have done so far in supporting the Project. I’ve loved working with the staff who’ve joined our training sessions, and I’m really proud of everything we are learning and doing together to improve end of life care knowledge and skills within MacIntyre.
Beth Britton is a consultant, trainer, mentor, writer, campaigner and speaker who is an expert in ageing, health and social care https://www.bethbritton.com