Palliative caregiver workshops: the way ahead?

Published: 20 Jan 2016

Author: Ann-Marie Todd
Palliative caregiver workshops: the way ahead?

Ann-Marie Todd is a doctor working in Palliative Medicine within NHS Tayside. She has recently returned from Singapore on a Churchill Fellowship, where she observed Palliative Caregiver Workshops which aim to provide practical training to families who are caring for someone who has chosen end of life care at home.

Ann-Marie also joined a school outreach team who seek to share with children as young as 10 the value of caring for others, with the eventual aim  of helping them develop into socially responsible adults, mindful of the needs of others, in particular the elderly or those living with chronic illness.

It is estimated that approximately half a million people are currently caring for a family member with a life limiting illness at home within the UK. Many studies have highlighted the cost to carers in providing this care both physically and emotionally. Additionally, reports have uncovered the hidden, often overlooked pressures relatives face when caring for someone whose preferred place of care and death is home.

Over a three-week period Ann-Marie observed workshops run by a home hospice organisation HCA Hospice Care, in which families were given training on caregiving aspects including transferring/moving and handling, personal hygiene for the bedbound patient, infection control and oral care. They also received teaching on symptom management, medicines administration, managing emergencies at home, massage and effective communication.

“It was a privilege to witness the education provided to these families at what was a very difficult time for them personally. I was amazed at the depth of information provided and the emotional support these families received during each workshop. Many of the patients I see in my role as a Palliative Medicine doctor express a wish to have care at home towards the end of life and therefore we need to consider practical ways of supporting family members deliver that care knowing the aspects of care delivery that concern them. A Caregiver workshop may be the way ahead,” says Ann-Marie.

Since her return to the UK Ann-Marie has been collating the information she gathered in Singapore which will form the basis of her Fellowship report and intends to disseminate the recommendations to colleagues within Palliative Medicine and to those agencies across the UK who have a role in supporting carers.

Contact Ann-Marieannmarietodd@nhs.net