Clare White, Clare McVeigh, Sue Foster, Lynn Dunwoody and Max Watson describe research that assessed the effectiveness of a distance learning course run by the Northern Ireland Hospice that is designed to enhance health care professionals’ practice in caring for patients with dementia.
Research indicates that staff in aged residential care may be unprepared for their role in palliative care provision. In collaboration with a local hospice, the project piloted an innovative problem-based experiential learning intervention Supportive Hospice and Aged Residential Exchange (SHARE) to enhance aged residential care staff palliative care skills. The aim was to explore the impact of SHARE for staff. SHARE was implemented in two aged residential care facilities in one urban centre for six months. Measurement of the impact of the intervention consisted of 1) pre-test-post-test questionnaires (n = 27) to assess changes in staff confidence in palliative care delivery 2) Eleven post-intervention interviews to describe staff perceptions of SHARE. Results from the SHARE pilot indicate that the intervention overall is seen as a success, especially in relation to advanced care planning documentation. Relationships between hospice and facility staff, and consequently facility staff and residents are seen as the key to the success of the project. Staff survey results indicated increased confidence in palliative care delivery and decreased depression. Key lessons learnt from for the development of any palliative care intervention within aged residential care include the importance of reciprocal learning, as well as the necessity of a strong partnership with key stakeholders.