Sharing the caring

Sharing the caring

Posted on 13 April 2018 by Monika Reichelt

Our Respite and Response team recently celebrated the success of a pilot programme aimed at supporting social care colleagues in Ayrshire who are caring for patients with life-limiting illness.   Piloted in North Ayrshire, the Personal Carer Development programme supported a senior carer from the personal care sector to spend three months working alongside the Ayrshire Hospice Respite and Response team offering hands-on learning, as well as the opportunity to share knowledge and experience, build stronger partnerships and promote the ethos of palliative care. 

Developed by Gillian Boyle, Ayrshire Hospice Respite and Response co-ordinator and Deidre Fairbairn, Respite and Response care assistant, the programme was based around the domains of the Palliative and End of Life Care framework produced by NHS Education for Scotland (NES). A programme of shared learning was devised and saw Mary McCrorie, a senior carer from North Ayrshire Care at Home Service selected to spend time working across all aspects of hospice care within the hospice in-patient unit, Solas (day services) and the community team.

Gillian explains:

“The Respite and Response team work in close collaboration with many teams across Ayrshire’s Health and Social Care partnerships. During interactions and community visits, we are often in contact with social care colleagues who are in the position of providing palliative care to patients and their family, but sometimes with limited information, understanding and experience.  There was a real opportunity for us through the Personal Carer Development programme to come together, share knowledge, improve communication, clarify misconceptions, dispel myths and ultimately improve patient care”.

Mary McCrorie adds:

“Being part of the personal carer development programme has given me the opportunity to observe, actively listen to and learn from patients and their families, as well as the nurses and staff in the hospice and their services. I now have a much better understanding of palliative care’s holistic approach and how I can try to help relieve patient’s pain, physical and emotional stress and support their spiritual needs. The person-centred, “What matters to you” approach adopted by the hospice, will help me greatly in my daily working life”.

Having spent three months working, observing and sharing Mary has now returned to her role in the Care at Home service to share her knowledge and expertise gained during the secondment.

Mary explains: “I also now feel much better equipped to support other social carers by facilitating peer support sessions, encouraging them to discuss their worries and fears and offer reassurance and appropriate training. After spending time with the hospice team I will now be encouraging my colleagues and I to reflect on our own attitudes to death and dying to help us better understand and empathise with patients and their families, which in turn, I hope, will help us to deliver even better patient care”.

Deirdre Fairbairn, Care Assistant (and Mary’s buddy) concludes:

“As part of the pilot, Mary brought her knowledge and experiences from North Ayrshire Council to the hospice and these have proven invaluable to our team. One thing in particular that stands out for me is the need to improve the information given to personal carers when they are delivering care to people in their final days of life. I now have a better understanding of the obstacles they face and the fear or reservations some personal carers may have when delivering palliative care.  In my mind the pilot programme has been a huge success. We now need to look at how we might replicate the programme in partnership with all three Councils, to the benefit of our patients, families and social care colleagues across Ayrshire”.  

Mary McCrorie has since won an award from North Ayrshire Council following her involvement in the Personal Carer Development pilot.