VOL: 100, ISSUE: 02, PAGE NO: 34
Christine Lawther, PGDip, BA, RNT, RGN, is head of education, St Ann’s Hospice, Manchester
Sue Taylor, BSC, RGN, is in-patient services manager, St Ann’s Hospice, Manchester;Ann Bell, RGN, is clinical placement development manager, Christie Hospital NHS Trust, Manchester;Helen White, MSc, BSc, RGN, is matron, thoracic medicine, South Manchester University NHS Trust
The emphasis on lifelong learning is clearly evident in government policy from 1997, with most progressive organisations encouraging the implementation of lifelong leaning approaches as an integral part of staff development (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2002).
In health care there have been significant changes to the way in which learning takes place at all levels. The introduction of more flexible approaches that encourage exploration of a range of opportunities and outcomes form the basis for much of the undergraduate and postgraduate training. These include activities such as problem-based learning, the promotion of models for reflective practice and portfolio development, each of which require a transition from learning about practice to learning in practice.
Within the field of palliative care, issues surrounding the recruitment and retention of staff are evident (National Council for Hospice and Specialist Palliative Care Services, 2000). There are particular concerns around D and E-grade nurses, perhaps due to the high ratio of trained staff and the subsequent limited opportunities for promotion. This was particularly true for the hospice in which this project took place.
The three participant organisations within this project include a regional cancer centre, a pulmonary oncology unit within a university teaching hospital and a large independent hospice. Due to the fact that this was a pilot project, and given the comparatively small numbers of qualified staff within the hospice unit, it was agreed that one nurse from each centre would be involved.
The idea for the project arose following discussions between the director of clinical services at the hospice and senior managers from each of the participating sites. The discussion had focused on the broad principles of developing collaborative working opportunities, and as such, was part of a wider agenda.
Having identified three members of staff to take part in the programme, a mentor was identified in each clinical area to support and encourage each nurse on rotation. In addition it was recognised that ongoing support would be required from the relevant managers if the students were to achieve their learning outcomes.
The programme was monitored informally on an ongoing basis, with formal evaluation taking place at the end.
The final evaluation took place during a meeting held one month after the programme had finished. The purpose of this meeting was to ensure that the participants had successfully reintegrated into their own working environments, and to establish whether, in the cold light of day, they felt that the experience had been a worthwhile one (Box 2).
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