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Debating forum – what do you think?
  1. Charlotte Nuckhir and
  2. Susan Stocks
  1. St Wilfrid's Hospice, Eastbourne, UK


Introduction Those working with dying people have described feeling like they are ‘walking a legal and ethical tightrope’. This is largely due to the fact that decision making is often complex and emotive. Considering decisions from an ethical viewpoint can help make sense of dilemmas often faced within palliative care. Evidence also shows that individuals are more motivated and gain more job satisfaction when they feel appreciated and valued and listened to.

Debate is one formal method of interactive discussion which both encourages the exploration of issues from an ethical viewpoint and provides the opportunity for individuals to have their voices heard.

Aim To provide a structured forum for members of the organisation to:

  • Debate relevant, current and/or ethical issues

  • Encourage understanding and appreciation of each others views in a safe environment

  • Reflect on practice in regard to decision making.

Method Bi monthly hour long forums are held. Topics and speakers are coordinated by the learning and development manager who also chairs the sessions. The forum is open to all staff, volunteers and external healthcare partners.

Results Topics to date include:

  • Assisted suicide –should the law be changed?

  • Should we always tell the truth?

  • Does having a faith matter in the hospice environment?

  • Generalist versus specialist within palliative care.

Up to 35 people have attended including the Chief executive, directors, managers, clinicians, support staff fundraisers and volunteers. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

Conclusion The results suggest the introduction of structured debate is regarded as an exciting, valuable opportunity to listen, be listened to, reflect and develop. The impact has been positive, thought provoking, unifying and motivating for all who have taken part suggesting that the aims have been achieved.

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