Background Derian House Children's Hospice and St Catherine's Hospice (Adult service) successfully bid to the Department of Health to fund a joint project to improve access to hospice care for young people aged 16–25 years. As part of the project, we surveyed training needs of staff within the two organisations specifically with regard to caring for this age group and their families.
Results Fifty-two completed questionnaires were analysed; 34 (64%) from St Catherine's Hospice and 18 (34%) from Derian House Hospice. The survey included questions about role, work setting, frequency of involvement with young adults, assessment, communication and clinical management skills, previously identified training needs, access to relevant training and preferred learning methods. The majority of staff had some degree of confidence in all key areas of assessment, communication and management. However, staff generally lacked the confidence to train others, with the exception of management of pain and other symptoms and the use of syringe drivers. Significant training needs were identified. Overall trends were similar amongst adult and paediatric staff, although there were some significant differences. Training specific to the age group in question was highlighted as difficult to find and much needed locally.
Conclusion Lack of confidence of staff working within or allied to specialist units has implications for implementation of the national End Of Life Care Strategy. Provision of good clinical care for young adults with a diverse range of life-limiting conditions requires close collaboration between multi professional clinical teams working across geographical and organizational boundaries. A joint approach to workforce development involving NHS services, voluntary organisations and universities has been incorporated within the Central Lancashire Palliative Care Education Strategy with the aim of improving our ability to meet the needs of this specific group of patients.
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