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Sheffield Hallam rallies to provide end-of-life care training

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A team of healthcare specialists from Sheffield Hallam University has created and delivered bespoke end-of-life care training to colleagues from local NHS trusts to help them support coronavirus victims and their families.  

The interactive training is delivered online through live Zoom webinars and led by Hallam’s palliative care education team. It provides an opportunity for individuals to refresh existing knowledge and receive the latest coronavirus-specific end-of-life care guidance.

The training is attuned to staff anxieties with individuals asked how they are and how they are feeling at the start of each session, providing an opportunity for questions and discussion. The training focuses on identifying key basic skills whilst minimising anxiety, to help build confidence amongst staff and reduce the likelihood of contradictory information being shared.

With government advice regularly changing and being updated, the training is adapted on a week-by-week basis to reflect latest guidance and co-delivered by Sheffileld Hallam and the trusts.

Healthcare colleagues from Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) have been the first cohort to receive the training, with sessions set to be rolled out across wider local NHS trusts.

Rachel Millard, RDaSH’s Deputy Director of Nursing, said: “Dealing with the coronavirus is tough for everyone. Refreshing existing knowledge is vital but obviously can’t be carried out via the traditional training route in a classroom setting.  The interactive online training is excellent and helps to support staff as well as refresh knowledge, we are so pleased that Hallam was able to provide this for us at short notice and in a compassionate and supportive format.” 

Dr Julie Skilbeck, Senior Lecturer in Nursing at Sheffield Hallam said: “The outbreak of Covid-19 has meant that many health care colleagues in our region are now having to care for service users, and their families, who are dying as a result of the virus. End-of-life care has never been more critical; now more than ever staff need to be prepared to provide compassionate and dignified palliative care during the pandemic. 

“During the interactive online conversations with colleagues, many sensitive and challenging topics have been raised, in particular how to talk to service users, and their families, when breaking bad news about a person’s deteriorating condition. All the participants have felt that the opportunity to share existing good practice and their own anxieties has gone some way to better equip them for the challenges ahead.”

Jo Painter, Lecturer in Mental Health at Sheffield Hallam and Nurse Consultant at RDaSH, said: “Whilst packages of end-of-life training exist to support NHS staff, we felt it was important to offer interactive sessions to allow for two-way conversations and engagement between all the attendees.

“Dr Claire Walsh, Dr Julie Skilbeck and Suzanne Monks have been instrumental in ensuring the training was put together rapidly; it has relied on strong collaborative relationships being formed quickly – and these new professional relationships and networks are likely to prove invaluable well beyond the Covid-19 crisis.”

For press information: Nicky Swire in the Sheffield Hallam University press office,