A pioneering project is helping student nurses learn more about the challenges of end of life care.
The project, developed by two nursing students at the University of Chester, has been praised for its positive impact on other students across the country and shortlisted for a national professional award.
Rachael Lambe, 21, and Ellen Soutter, 49, founded their ‘expanding end of life care’ project with the aim of improving students’ capability in the situation.
The initiative has seen Rachael and Ellen selected to lead a Twitter ‘webinar’ organised by Dr Sarah Russell, head of research at Hospice UK.
They identified that many students feel out of depth around end of life care and that more training is needed.
Ellen said: “Student nurses come from a wide variety of backgrounds and also a wide range of ages. Many have not cared for anyone before let alone someone at the end of their life.
“While nothing fully prepares a student to care for a patient at this important time we felt that it was important to let students know the types of things they can expect when caring for a dying patient.
“We also believed that students need to build emotional resilience and we aimed to give students reassurance that they are not alone.”
She continued: “We wanted to let them know who to speak to if they feel out of their depth or just want someone to speak to or just listen.
“We did not foresee how successful our project was going to be and we are delighted to have been able to have a positive impact on nursing education.
“We believe that the sharing of information and good practice leads to better, more proactive nurses and ultimately, better patient care.”
Rachael explained: “Our project focuses on the importance of developing emotional resilience in the provision of end of life care for student nurses before they go out on their first placement.
“Our research showed that many students are going out on to that feeling unprepared, unsupported and unable to cope with the difficult emotions that arise in the provision of end of life care. We wanted to change this.
“We believe that by improving the emotional resilience of student nurses we will support them in improving the care they are able to provide.
“We want students to know that it is okay and normal for them to get upset and to grieve for their patients.”
She added: “We want students to be aware that support is available to them if they are struggling to come to terms with the death of a patient and that there is no shame in getting upset when someone dies. Compassion and empathy is what makes a good nurse.
“Providing end of life care is a privilege that we are blessed with as nurses, we only have one chance to get it right and we hope that our project supports students in providing high quality end of life care for their patients and their loved ones.”
Both students have also been nominated for a Student Nursing Times award for the project.
Prof Angela Simpson, the university’s executive dean of the faculty of health and social care, said: “This is a fantastic example of how student vision, personal leadership and collaboration between students from across a range of universities can really make a difference in both education and practice.”