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A Visit to St. Christopher’s Hospice

I recently spent a week at St. Christopher’s Hospice in London, England. My objectives were to

(a)    learn more about the role of social work in an interprofessional hospice setting,

(b)    to better understand how education fit with palliative care practice and

(c)    to make connections with my own research interests.

I was prepared to be impressed by the “birthplace of the modern hospice movement” and I must say that my visit far exceeded my expectations. I was not only impressed: I was inspired.

I knew that Dame Cecily Saunders had an unusual interprofessional training to begin the work that she did.         I did not know until I spent time at St. Christopher’s, however, that she conceived of hospice work as being equal parts practice, research and education.

The current staff of the hospice executes Dr. Cicely Saunders’ vision brilliantly. My clinical visit week was designed specifically to meet my objectives. Much thought went into the meetings that I attended and the staff visits that were arranged for me. Beyond my own visit there is a huge and important education program that St. Christopher’s offers and they have a bursary program to bring students from resource-poor countries in order to include those who could not afford to be there otherwise.

St. Christopher’s has a blog and the library is an immense treasure. It is not due to its size but to its scope and its resources. I always take pleasure in being in a room filled with books. The experience in casting my gaze along the spines of books and seeing that every title is of interest to me because it relates to some aspect of palliative care is indescribable.

All in all, I had an extraordinary week. I am grateful to all who welcomed me and I would encourage everyone to have a look at the St. Christopher’s website  to see what educational offerings it has. It might just inspire you too.

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  • http://www.nightsecrets.co.uk/ London escorts

    Thanx for sharing this nice post here.Last year i had visited ST Christophers its nice to be there.

  • Jared Porter

    Thank you for this post! I went to London a couple of years ago and hoped I might have the opportunity to visit St. Christopher’s while I was there. Unfortunately it did not come to pass, but how wonderful that you had the opportunity! 

    • Jared Porter

      What would you say was the greatest take-away from your visit?

  • VJ Periyakoil

    Susan:
    I loved your comment about Dr. Cicely Saunders’ vision for excellence in clinical practice, training and research. I believe that as a field, we do pretty well with the practice and training. I am not so sure about the research part. 

    As we go forward into the next era of health care, in order to generate empirically driven best practices, there is a critical need for research…. both in the upstream palliative realm and especially so in the downstream hospice setting. 

    Much of the current research has been centered in major medical centers. We need a ground swell of research generation and participation in home and community based settings. Research does not have to always be multi-site double blind placebo controlled RCTs. A simple and elegantly done pilot project can serve as valuable nidus for a major change.

    This is a call for action for all multi-disciplinary Hospice and Palliative Care practitioners.

  • Gossage Karen

    i agree completely. I trained as an RN in London in the late 1970′s and was lucky enough to be taught by the Dame and visit ST Christophers. Last September I went again to St Christopher’s Hospice for a weeks study, very inspiring. Love the place!
    karen Gossage NP Palliative care PAMF Santa Cruz

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