Background Admiral Nurses are specialist dementia nurses who use a range of psychosocial, educative and practical approaches to support families living with dementia. Providing Admiral Nurses with a full programme of professional and practice development is a strategic aim of Dementia UK, therefore identifying learning priorities at the end of life is vital.
Aim Admiral Nurses have the support of a practice development approach to their learning based on a competency framework developed by the University of Worcester (2016). Admiral Nurses have supported time away from practice, to develop skills and knowledge to support the people in their care, including end of life. This work explores how a practice development approach enables Admiral Nurses to develop their understanding, skills and knowledge of end of life issues for people with dementia.
Method A literature review was undertaken and two focussed discussions with Admiral Nurse Groups exploring end of life care challenges in practice. Feedback around gaps in practice then informs learning within future practice development sessions.
Results One example of a gap in practice identified was the cessation of the Liverpool Care Pathway. Davies et al. (2015) developed a toolkit of heuristics for practitioners when caring for people with dementia at the end of life which was subsequently shared with the group and further discussion on how to use this toolkit in practice. There are now further discussions exploring the skills and confidence of Admiral Nurses having challenging conversations at end of life, including Advance Care Planning, and how a practice development approach could assist development in this area.
Conclusion A practice development approach to Admiral Nurses learning on end of life care will ensure that their development is person centred, innovative and valuable. This model of supporting specialist nurses in their practice allows better understanding and awareness to collaborate with palliative care colleagues.
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