Hospice’s project for young people wins Nursing Times Award

A hospice initiative which encourages children and young people to talk openly and honestly about life’s challenges has been nationally recognised.

St Nicholas Hospice Care’s Life’s Questions has scooped a Nursing Times Award after been named the winner in the award’s children’s services category.

Life’s Questions, which focuses on helping children and young people to have conversations around topics, which adults can sometimes be reluctant to have, is led by hospice educator Lisa Patterson (above).

During the awards ceremony, which took place virtually on Wednesday, November 18, the importance of Life’s Questions was recognised, with judges saying: “Given the significant impact bereavement and death can have on child health, wellbeing and life outcomes, a public health approach to conversations about life, death, loss and grief, in partnership with schools, should be celebrated. Our winner has led the way in developing an informed and tested approach that is sensitive yet impactful. It will make a difference on many levels, and this work is particularly important in light of the global Covid-19 pandemic.”

It was a visit to a school in May 2017 that prompted Lisa to come up with the idea. She wanted to bring the topics adults can often find themselves shying away from into open conversations with young people.

With the support of other hospice teams, Lisa planned a pilot session which took place in her kitchen. With feedback showing a need for Life Question’s Lisa, began to drive the initiative forward, and soon had invitations from schools who wanted her to come in and speak to students.

Over the last three years, the initiative, which is supported by volunteers, has continued to grow. Sessions are delivered in secondary and primary schools, as well as colleges and groups in the community.

Currently, Lisa is producing a training manual, which once finished, will allow Life’s Questions to be shared more widely.

Lisa said: “What an amazing accolade to have been given considering it all started in my kitchen as a test to see if a group of local teenagers thought it could be useful in their schools. I am super proud that the hospice and our local community have embraced this project and supported wholeheartedly.

“Our volunteers that we trained last year have made such a difference to the students they have talked with, and we see this in the post-it note responses after a session, and I’m looking forward to training more volunteers soon.

“Winning this award hopefully gives us the national (even international) reach to share with other hospices or schools to take on once training through our pending training manual.”

To date, the Life’s Questions team have facilitated 85 sessions (14 during recent months through the online communication tool Zoom) to 1,618 children, young adults, parents, teachers, support staff, public and health and social professionals.

If you’d like to find out more about Life Questions, and hear from some of the initiative’s volunteers, visit https://stnicholashospice.org.uk/support-and-information/education/lifes-questions/

Pictured above are some of the volunteers who support St Nicholas Hospice Care’s Life’s Questions initiative which has received a Nursing Times Award.

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