Making a difference for patients at UCLH

Training staff for end-of-life conversations

We fund a course that prepares clinical staff for difficult conversations about appropriate treatment for patients reaching the end of life. Delegates learn about best practice before testing their skills with simulation scenarios created by actors and inspired by real events at UCLH.

Home Case studies Training staff for end-of-life conversations

How this helps participants

The end of life conversation role-play provides clinicians with a safe environment to practise, reflect, learn and improve.

After taking part in the scenarios delegates engage in facilitated debriefing with their peers, and also the actors, which provides a very rich learning environment.

Starting the dialogue early

Having a conversation with a patient about approaching the end of life can be difficult and uncomfortable but it’s also essential to help patients come to terms with death, and importantly, make decisions about end of life care.

That’s why UCLH Charity funds a training programme to prepare clinical staff for these conversations. The aim is to inspire them with the confidence to be transparent, and start the dialogue early. 

The course takes just one day to complete and consists of two main elements. For part one, delegates learn about law, ethics, psychology and religious concerns relating to end of life care and part two puts the clinician to the test with simulation scenarios, created by actors and inspired by real events at UCLH.

In one scenario, a patient is accompanied by two siblings who are struggling to talk about the care of their critically unwell relative. This challenges the clinician to include the patient in the conversation amidst the family dynamics. 

Arguably the most challenging role-play is with “Gloria”, a woman who has suffered from complications associated with Crohn’s disease. Gloria is listed as for resuscitation but no longer wants to be kept alive. “The actress makes the situation so real, and emotions are heightened by the idea of someone not choosing life”, comments Jillian Hartin, Senior Nurse. Jillian says that there is no “one size fits all” conversation and thanks to the UCLH Charity course, clinicians can develop their own style that works best for them, the patient, the family and the situation. 

What else?

UCLH Charity funds courses to develop staff all over the hospital. For instance we provided a grant to train up Pathway Care Navigators for the leading homeless charity Pathway, which is based at UCLH and began its journey at UCLH Charity.

Pathway Care Navigators are ex-homeless people, who are trained up to help people who are currently homeless. This involves working with local councils, hospitals, homeless shelters and clothes banks to help the person solve their personal demons and get them off the streets. Read more here.