Providing End-of Life Care: HPC Fellow, Paula Preston, St Christopher's Hospice

Paula Preston is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with St Christopher’s Hospice. At St Christopher’s Hospice, Paula supported the Community Action Teams - Creating Conversations, Coach4Care and Compassionate Neighbours. Read on to learn about her placement as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow.

I first became aware of St Christopher’s Hospice through my previous role as a community nurse. I also have personal experience with the quality of care and support the hospice provides to those with a terminal illness, and their loved ones. St Christopher’s current goal is to reach more people in their local area who need help in the last years of life through Community Action Teams. I started volunteering over a year ago for one of these projects, Creating Conversations, the purpose of which is to encourage local people through education to feel more comfortable about talking to family members and friends around any aspects of death and dying.

I was then invited to work for the hospice through the Hilton Prize Coalition as a Fellow, to carry out an administrative role supporting the Community Action Team Lead and the Project Leads of the three Community Action Teams - Creating Conversations, Coach4Care, and Compassionate Neighbors. Coach4Care was set up to train volunteer ex-carers to become coaches for current carers who are looking after someone with a life-limiting illness. Compassionate Neighbors are also volunteers who offer time, friendship, and emotional support to people living near them with chronic or terminal illness, by visiting on a regular basis.

After careers in both teaching and nursing, coming back to an administrative role has been both exciting and challenging.  I have enjoyed learning about the advances in the use of technology within the office environment as well as using the online learning programs provided by the Hilton Prize Coalition to further enhance my skills.

The three projects I support are relatively new and have not had an administrator before. As a result, my first priority was to understand the background of each project and what systems were being used for recording data. Apart from the general administrative tasks of organizing and servicing meetings, booking events, ordering materials, and maintaining diaries, I have also had the opportunity to work closely with the volunteers across all the projects.  This has included recruitment, training, monitoring availability, recording attendance and ensuring that any concerns were dealt with appropriately.  I have spent a considerable amount of time working on the project databases to ensure records are accurate, and the relevant information can be retrieved for management reporting as and when required. 

By gaining a more in-depth knowledge of the main database that the organization uses, I have been able to advise management of some additional reports that can be attained.  As I had experience with the Creating Conversations project for over a year, I was able to be more proactive with my support. The project runs regular events in the community where the public are invited to listen to a talk around an end-of-life topic such as wills, arranging funerals or bereavement, followed by group discussions. I have set up a database of organisations who are regularly notified of our events, and I also worked closely with local newspapers and St Christopher’s marketing and communication team to ensure that all events are widely publicized.

As my role is part-time and my hours flexible, every week is different, so time management and the ability to prioritize the workload is essential – if somewhat challenging at times!  I am very grateful for the investment provided by the Hilton Prize Coalition that has enabled me to carry out this work at St Christopher’s, and am hopeful that I will be able to carry on supporting the Community Action Teams in the future. This opportunity has given me an insight into the meaning of "community action," what we mean by community and how an organization needs to consider different ways of working to create change, yet I still have so much to learn!

About the Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the  Fellows Program, the  Collaborative Models Program  and the  Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat,  Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit  prizecoalition.charity.org, or contactprizecoalition@charity.org. Follow  the Hilton Prize Coalition on  Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

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