Dr Tim Warlow, Paediatric Palliative Care GRID trainee, Wales Deanery
Few of us can forget recent cases in the press of Alfie Evans and Charlie Gard. Such tragic cases of breakdown in relationship between families and care teams. I’m sure that alongside my own cries you have had the thought ‘Surely things didn’t have to get to this!’ These cases bring into stark clarity the importance of our skills of communication and our ability to put into practice the ethical and legal duties to involve of families and children in decision making. These cases are nightmare scenarios, but at some points in our career we will face similar challenging situations.
Aware of these issues, the All Wales Paediatric Palliative Care Team received £20,000 of Welsh Government funding to improve the skills of paediatricians in these areas. Our response was to organise a series of free workshops exploring issues of ‘communicating difficult news’, decision making and advanced care planning in paediatrics. April 2018 saw the first of these workshops in the fantastic Copthorne Hotel, Culverhouse Cross. Within a month we had filled all our places and the response on the day from delegates was fantastic.
The truly multidisciplinary event was attended by consultants, community nurses, therapists, trainees and hospice staff, all of whom engaged amazingly in communications skills breakout groups and seminars. There was time to explore advanced communication skills, read and use the Paediatric Advanced Care (PAC) Plan, and consider the views of families and young people in planning. The highlight of the day was without a doubt an interview with one of our parents whose son sadly died under the care of our service. She discussed the value of good communication, of doctors being prepared and sensitive, and the benefit of early and co-ordinated planning.
The good news is that there are several further days being organised, one for each of the health boards in Wales. The next of these is in Swansea where Dr Griffiths will be using trained actors to facilitate what will be an exhilarating day of interactive learning together with other professionals. Please contact email@example.com further information about upcoming days and to sign up. All workshops are free of charge and are in great venues with food provided.
If doing a good job of communicating and parallel planning with families excites your interest, these days are for you. If you want to run a mile, these days are even more for you!
Let’s get to grips with the really difficult stuff of paediatrics, lets help families to live well and for those whose lives are cut short, to live well right to the end.
Dr Annabel Greenwood