Introduction: Developing communication skills in end of life care requires a strategic approach1. We use a licensed communication skills training product2 to train staff across a health authority. 45 trainers were trained in the product and they have provided the training to over 2000 people.
Aim: To access the impact of the training on individual practitioners, the conditions needed to achieve this impact and to build capability and capacity across the workforce.
Method: The impact on individuals was assessed in a cross sectional sample of 67 participants using a questionnaire to rate their confidence and willingness to respond to emotional concerns and to comment on their experience of the training. The conditions needed to build capability and capacity was assessed via focus groups with the trainers and training co-ordinators.
Results: Individually the training has impact: 53 (79%) participants strongly agreed that the training increased their confidence to respond to emotional concerns and 49 (73%) strongly agreed that it had increased their confidence to address emotional concerns. In the free text they reported being more likely to enable individuals to find their own solution rather than trying to solve the problem for them. Collectively the training provides a model for discussing patient and family end of life care concerns. From the trainers perspective the product is well crafted. The prescriptive format was evaluated by some as constraining and by others as helpful. From the co-ordinators perspective considerable time has been needed for negotiation of the license, co-ordination of sessions, communication with trainers and for governance of the training.
Conclusion: Using a licensed product for end of life care communications skills training has ensured a consistent quality of provision over a large workforce and built capability and capacity but these results have depended on skilful facilitation and meticulous co-ordination, communication and governance.