Mel Hodgkinson is a registered nurse with 18 years’ experience in palliative care and a practice educator within the Learning and Development team at St Helena. Along with colleagues, Mel has been providing advance care planning (ACP) to a number of care homes and sheltered accommodation sites across North Essex. Her presentation focusses on the My Care Choices Record as a key tool to initiate the conversation.
“The key training objectives are to ensure that people living in care homes receive the right care in their place of preference and also to reduce the number of inappropriate admissions to hospital. With an advance care plan registered there is a much higher chance of achieving both of these.
“The training we have provided is for all staff although at several establishments I have had people tell me they don’t know why they have to be included. One lady told me ‘I am a domestic, I don’t have a medical background’ but, as I explained to her, she is part of the team looking after people. Who knows who will be chosen as the confidante? You do not have to be a specialist to listen to what is important to someone
“Death is still a taboo subject in this country but having the MCCR makes it more accessible because actually it is not all about death and dying, it is about planning. And planning whilst the person has capacity.
“What I love about the booklet is that it is a nice size and it is easy to flick through; it’s not threatening or frightening. At the beginning it asks what is important to you (with ‘you’ being the person completing the details). Further on in the booklet the medical questions are explored but the focus is on the person as a whole, not their illness which I think is really important.
“At the end of the training session it’s great to see those who may have been a little bit skeptical actually embrace the subject. Sometimes it touches people very personally; one lady came up at the end and asked if she could take a couple of the booklets for her elderly parents.
“As a palliative care practitioner I am so passionate about this subject. I want to see a future where an end of life plan is just as important as a birth plan.”