Background In the past, death was such a part of everyday life it was simply and frankly discussed, but such opportunities for today’s young adults are more limited. Whilst encouraging people of all ages to talk more about death and dying is important, for those considering a health-related career, having a better understanding about life-limiting illnesses and end of life care is particularly important. With many of those entering the caring professions expressing feelings of anxiety and fear in relation to death and the dying patient (Dakin, 2003) and a recognition that student nurses/doctors find caring for dying patients stress-inducing (Arber, 2001, Timmins & Kaliszer, 2002), more needs to be done to engage young adults with topics such as complex, life-limiting illnesses, death and dying (Wardhere, 2014).
Project Reflecting this, an innovative six- week programme, ‘Caring for Dave’, was designed by Compton Hospice for Health Futures University Technical College, West Bromwich – the first UTC in the country with healthcare and health sciences as its specialism. This challenging programme followed ‘Dave’ from an initial concern about his health through to care after death. Each week explored a different topic – such as lifestyles and health, breaking bad news, the dying process and caring for Dave after death. Students also completed work between sessions to enhance and consolidate their learning.
The aim of the project was to:
• Provide insight into eolc and related topics for students interested in a career in the care sector
• Explore death and dying from a range of perspectives
• Consider the personal competencies/attributes necessary to care for someone who is dying
• Encourage learners to think about a career in palliative/eolc.
Evaluations provided very positive feedback about the programme from staff and student perspectives and the hospice is currently working with UTC and other sixth forms to explore wider roll out.
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