A NEW service to extend training in palliative and end of life care to all health and social care professionals in Wigan Borough will launch on Wednesday, October 5th.

The Wigan Borough Palliative and End of Life Care Learning Hub will offer online and classroom-based learning free of charge to health and social care professionals working in Wigan, in a bid to improve care for Borough residents who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.

The central hub will be at Wigan and Leigh Hospice but, in the future, additional training and education hubs will be available at locations around the Borough.

The hub will be led by the Practice Development Team at the hospice – formerly known as Hospice in your Care Home – after the team was awarded recurrent funding earlier this year to expand their education and support service.

Debbie Jones, Practice Development Lead, said: “Our aim at the hospice has always been to support as many people living with a life-limiting illness as possible – even if they are not helped by the hospice directly. Education, training, and practical support have proven to be an effective way of improving the care of patients and those important to them.

“Thanks to additional funding from Healthier Wigan Partnership, the team has been able to expand, and it now means that our training and education – which primarily has been offered in nursing and residential homes – will be available free of charge to all health and social care professionals across the Borough.

“The pandemic has been an extremely challenging time with some health and social care professionals having little or no previous experience in caring for the dying. COVID-19 highlighted just how important it is to have these skills and showed that there are many professionals who could benefit from further training to manage these difficult situations.

“Now, more than ever, palliative and end of life care needs to be embedded in the training and education of all health and social care staff.”

Palliative and end of life care training is currently delivered full time to over 100 care settings by the Practice Development Team alongside other professionals including District Nurses, GPs, the Hospital Specialist Palliative Care team, and Hospice Doctors. This collaborative approach will continue as these services will link in with the hub to offer training sessions based on their own specialisms.

Debbie said: “The hub will bring all this education and training taking place in the Borough under one umbrella which will ensure less repetition and a clearer structure to palliative and end of life care education.

“I am delighted that Healthier Wigan Partnership shares the same vision we do at the hospice, and has committed to funding the service long term, which will lead to a much-improved end of life experience for patients and for those people important to them, across our Borough.”

Over the last seven years, the team which launched as Hospice in your Care Home in 2015, has evolved from supporting eight nursing homes to 14 prior to the pandemic. In response to the pandemic, the Hospice in your Care Home team began offering training and education free of charge to all nursing and residential homes and began to work with Learning Disability Teams, mental health services, Extra Care and supported living settings.

Debbie added: “Our experiences over the years have shown us that training and education significantly reduces the financial burden on the NHS and provides better outcomes, not only for patients and families, but the people working hard to give their patients, residents, and service users the best possible care.

“It is so rewarding to see the impact of the work we do, especially when such partnerships results in people receiving dignified care with comfort and respect at the heart of it all.”