Background A new heart failure service had recently been developed with input from the local palliative care team. Feedback from an initial joint study day was positive but felt to be too power point heavy.
A further study day was planned, with a more interactive approach. It was attended by GPs, specialist nurses and staff nurses from hospital and community settings.
Methods A programme was developed with sessions focussed around a patient‘s journey from diagnosis until last days of life. The sessions were led by heart failure and palliative care professionals and included a patient story. Participants were seated around tables with a facilitator on each, for group discussions about treatment decisions and specific challenges arising from the different stages of the disease.
Evaluation forms included before and after self-assessments of knowledge and confidence by the participants for each session and also asked candidates how it would change their practice.
Results 96% of participants providing feedback (25 of 26) reported an increase in confidence and better understanding of the topics covered, with improved scores before and after the teaching. The majority gave examples of changes to practice, especially around advanced care planning. Feedback was extremely positive in favour of the holistic, multidisciplinary approach and central role of the patient’s story.
Conclusions The model promoted collaborative working between the palliative and heart failure teams with a better understanding of each other’s role and appreciation that an integrated approach can potentially improve patient care.
Using the story of an individual patient gave more relevance and a personal aspect to the teaching sessions which was appreciated by the attendees.
There is potential for this model to be used for other non-cancer patient groups such as long term neurological conditions and chronic respiratory disease to strengthen local collaborative working between palliative care and these specialities also.