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P-9 Challenging conversations: training volunteers to support the elderly around end of life issues
  1. Rebecca Turner
  1. St Christopher’s Hospice, London


Background St Christopher’s is increasingly working with local voluntary organisations which support those who are elderly and frail to improve confidence with regards to end of life. Our patient support volunteers are regularly part of conversations around end of life and are honing sophisticated communication skills about subjects many find challenging.


  • To develop the skills of St Christopher’s volunteers to provide training for others as a less ‘formal’ face of hospice care;

  • To increase the confidence and skills of local volunteers who support elderly, frail, and vulnerable people in speaking about death;

  • To ensure sustainability by increasing the capability of other organisations to develop the skills and expertise of their own volunteers;

  • To support better health outcomes at end of life.

Method Connected with two local partner organisations. Recruited six existing volunteers and co-produced a three-hour training course entitled ‘Challenging Conversations’. Our volunteers delivered a train the trainer course to staff and volunteers from our partner organisations who then delivered the training to their own volunteers. Evaluation was run alongside this project.

Results A comprehensive training resource has been produced for our partner organisations. Ten staff members and eight volunteers from our partner organisations were trained in how to successfully deliver the course. 94% of the delegates said they felt confident in delivering the course to others. 62 partner organisation volunteers are in the process of being trained. Our aspiration is that around 200 of our partner service users will be enabled to influence the care they receive at the end of life.

Conclusions This is a sustainable way for St Christopher’s to extend its reach into the community to deliver an appropriate education intervention for those giving time in other organisations.

Acknowledgments With thanks to the Heath Innovation Network (HIN) for funding this work. And to our partner organisations Entelechy Arts and Age UK Bromley and Greenwich.

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