Care home staff across Birmingham and Sandwell have been celebrating, after graduating from a palliative and end of life care programme.

33 staff members from eight care homes completed Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice’s ‘Six Steps for Care Homes Programme’ – an initiative which upskills care home staff to provide palliative care to their residents.

At a special ceremony hosted at the Hospice on Tuesday 11 February, care homes received their completion certificates and heard from inspirational speaker Tommy Whitelaw – a dementia awareness campaigner who shared his experience of caring for his mother.

The Six Steps for Care Homes Programme is designed to support staff to develop skills and knowledge of palliative care, enabling them to care for residents who are living with life-limiting illness.

The six steps cover topics such as: the importance of advance care planning (ACP); how to co-ordinate care with other health and social care providers; the skills needed to have difficult conversations with residents and their families; and the expertise to deliver high-quality care in the last days of life and after death.

Free of charge for all care homes, the programme is an effective way for staff to improve resident and family experience of end of life care by reducing unnecessary and sometimes distressing hospital admissions.

Kate Palmer, care homes clinical nurse specialist at Birmingham St Mary’s, said: “It was wonderful to see staff from local care homes join us for our special graduation ceremony. Our students have worked incredibly hard to complete their Six Steps training and so it was a real privilege to welcome them to the Hospice and celebrate their well-deserved success.”

In just over 12 months, the Care Homes Support Team has proved highly popular with care homes across Birmingham and Sandwell, with 30 organisations involved and the Hospice providing 151 training sessions to date. This could have had the potential to improve care for 1,200 residents, enabling them to live well with illness and to die in a place of their choosing.

Kate added: “As more people live longer and with a number of complex illnesses, we know that the number of people living in care homes will continue to rise significantly. That’s why we want to work in partnership with these organisations, to make sure staff have the skills, knowledge and confidence to provide vital end of life care.”

The Six Steps for Care Homes Programme was originally developed and rolled out in the North West by the NHS. Birmingham St Mary’s is currently encouraging more care homes to ‘step on’ to its programme, to help ensure more people receive crucial palliative care when they need it most.

If you would like to find out more, please contact Kate Palmer or Becky Brown at kate.palmer@birminghamhospice.org.uk or call 0121 752 8798.

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