Background The National Council for Palliative Care (2015) highlighted that there are considerable social taboos when discussing death and dying, yet it is well documented that honest end-of-life conversations can enhance capability to live and die well (Department of Health, 2008).
In line with national strategies to increase public awareness of hospices’ work and after exploring other approaches to this project, the hospice was keen to establish and evaluate the benefits of running a course for school children, patients and hospice.
Engage, create links and inform our community about the hospice’s work;
Offer an opportunity for patients to engage in activities of sharing their knowledge and life–stories with children and wider community;
Provide safe environment for children to explore aspects of ill–health, death, dying and the ‘circle of life’;
Impact evaluation of all participants.
Methods January 2016 to May 2016: literature review, networked with other hospices, internal consultations, service planning; June 2016 to August 2016 - school recruited, year-5 students and patients to participate in pilot project; September 2016 to March 2017 - ran pilot project and evaluation; September 2017 to present - eleven courses/academic year as established service; participants counted. Self-assessment/questionnaire evaluation by all participants. Social media activity monitored.
Initial pilot – one school, 32 children, seven patients, four carers, six school staff;
2017–2018 – eight schools, 126 children, ten patients, 73 family members, 22 teaching staff, three carers (assemblies 578 attendees);
2018–2019 (so far) – ten schools, 116 children, 13 patients, 80 family members, 23 teaching staff, four carers, (assemblies 829 attendees). Three hospices visited and now using Schools Project to inform their own model.
Conclusion The evaluation of the schools project shows a positive impact on children, patients and wider community. We have learnt from those involved that it has reduced taboos around death and dying and has a positive effect on patients. In-depth study being explored.
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