Pioneering new learning zone opened at St Asaph hospice St Kentigern

A new learning zone at a hospice is the first of its kind in Wales.

The education facility at St Kentigern Hospice in St Asaph will enable nurses and care practitioners from the independent sector particularly to learn the best ways to provide the best possible care for patients.

St Kentigern Hospice opening of  Learning Zone by Lady Langford. Pictured (front) is Dinah Hickish with (L/R)  Lady Langford, Ian Bellingham Chief Executive at St Kentigern and Anita Curley.

It was officially opened by the hospice’s President, Lady Susan Langford, and was made possible thanks to a £1,200 donation from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The zone includes a laptop, a printer, wifi access, academic journals and books, and it will also be available for nurses and care practitioners in the wider community to use.

Recently, St Kentigern earned glowing praise after setting up the only nurse-led hospice probably in the Western Hemisphere which is attracting interest from across the UK and even across the globe.

The eight-bed in patient hospice with day care facilities provides unparalleled care for those with life-threatening and terminal illness, but has to rely on 80 per cent of its income from the generous donations of the public.

Dinah Hickish, Senior Advanced Nurse Practitioner at St Kentigern, believes strongly in the value of education, and supporting the independent sector in being able to access knowledge.

She said: “This will enable us to learn from each other and share best practice, and hopefully in the future we’ll be able to develop more initiatives.

“I feel very strongly that the patients receive the best palliative care through education.”

Valerie Bailey, Wales Union Learning Fund Project Manager for the RCN, said: “These learning zones are absolutely crucial I would say because it give that ethos where you value learning and development.

“It’s about creating that learning culture. This is an illustration of St Kentigern’s commitment to learning and also to the wider community and to the rest of the third sector.”

Valarie,  added: “When it comes to nursing you can’t stand still. You don’t just get your nursing qualification and that’s it. You’re always learning. There is a requirement on nurses that they continue with their professional development, and this is something that will enable them to do that.”

Ian Bellingham, Chief Executive of St Kentigern, added: “We’re delighted that  the RCN have worked with us and helped us to open this new facility; it is a real partnership working. It was very appropriate that our President Lady Susan Langford agreed to officially open the Learning Zone.

“Looking to the future it is essential than there will need to be more collaborative and partnership working. This initiative is an excellent example of how organisations can work together. We are indebted to our colleagues in the RCN and this is a fantastic resource we can maximise to everybody’s benefit.

“It can be used by our own nurses here in the hospice but also we are making it available to nursing colleagues from nursing homes.

“They’ll be able to undertake study and research in a comfortable environment that is specifically catered to learning with regard to palliative care. I think the important thing is that bringing more and more people into the hospice it enables us to not only promote our work but help colleagues understand what we do here at St Kentigern.

“Often people have got a misapprehension about what hospices are all about. So from our point of view, the more people we can bring into the hospice the better.

“It’s an illustration of the fact we are engrained into the community, and we couldn’t operate without community support. 80 per cent of our funding comes through the community. We get less than 20 per cent from the government.

“We’re very proud of the support we receive from the community and this is just another way of cementing our relationship with them.”

He also paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of Lady Langford: “She’s one of the founders of the hospice, and she has does an tremendous amount of work for us over the 19 years we’ve been in existence.”

Lady Langford paid tribute to the volunteers and the staff at St Kentigern.

She said: “I can’t say enough about all the volunteers. It staggers me their kindness and their generosity. We’re quite a small hospice, and we have over 500 volunteers on our list which I find amazing.

“Our staff are very special people, because it’s not easy to be around dying people all of the time, and they somehow don’t see it like that. To be able to give so much I think is incredible and I think they’re very special people.”

She also believes passionately about the role of the hospice in the community: “Until you’re dead you are alive, and when you die you want to die in loving surroundings, and to feel dignity in death.

“You want to be treated like you’re still a human being, and that’s what the hospice is all about. It’s providing the quality of life at the end of life which is extremely important.”

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