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Rethinking priorities: experience of an educational initiative to change attitudes, behaviours and clinical practice in end-of-life care


To implement the National End of Life Care strategy and enable more people to express and achieve their preferences about care at the end of life, senior clinicians outside palliative medicine need to make it a routine part of their practice. However, it is acknowledged that recognising that people are entering the last phase of their illness is not always straightforward, and having conversations about aims of treatment and planning for future care may not be easy. In order to begin to address these challenges, funding was sought from the Yorkshire and the Humber Strategic Health Authority (SHA), and subsequently Health Education England, Yorkshire and the Humber (HEEYH), to pilot a development programme in 2 acute trusts. 2 palliative medicine consultants shared the trainer role at each site, supporting hospital consultants from a range of specialties, with a GP to give a community perspective. The programme involved individual clinicians identifying their own learning needs and specific issues for end-of-life care in their patients. The group met together monthly in action learning sets to discuss issues in a safe yet challenging environment. Following evaluation using a combination of training needs analyses, feedback questionnaires, audits and service evaluations, it was modified slightly and repiloted in 2 further trusts as ‘Rethinking Priorities’. This paper describes the programme and its outcomes, especially in relation to participants' learning, service development and leadership. It also highlights the challenges, including different learning styles, the concept of action learning, obtaining funding and dedicated time, and how to evaluate the effectiveness of a programme. Overall, it suggests that an educational initiative based on clinicians identifying their own learning needs, and using an action learning approach to explore issues with other colleagues, with the addition of some targeted sessions, can result in positive change in knowledge, behaviour and clinical practice.

  • Education and training
  • Communication
  • Hospital care
  • Quality of life
  • Prognosis

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