Communities of practice for end of life care workplace settings: A case study.
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AbstractCommunities of practice have been used as a way of sharing practice and developing knowledge. The End of Life Care Education Consortium was formed by three hospice education departments in the West Midlands, United Kingdom, with the support of the Strategic Health Authority, to provide education programmes for healthcare professionals in palliative care. As the Consortium worked collaboratively, I wanted to explore whether there was potential for it to evolve into a community of practice and whether there was scope for communities of practice being utilised in end of life care settings to share and develop practice. The literature review revealed there were no articles written on communities of practice in palliative care settings and demonstrated that the workplace is an important area for learning as new staff learn from more experienced members of the workforce. Communities of practice can be used for experienced staff to learn from each other and share practice with others from outside the community. Case study research was used to explore whether the Consortium had the potential to evolve into a community of practice and if its members learnt from each other. Members of the Consortium were interviewed using semi-structured interviews, documents including my research diary, reports and notes from meetings were also used as data. Although the findings showed that the Consortium was not functioning as a community of practice it did have the key characteristics of one and there is potential for hospices to form communities of practice to enable staff to share practice and support each other. The findings demonstrated that for a community of practice to be successful it requires the support of management to allow staff to take part in community activities, seen as an important part of the organisation’s culture and there needs to be leadership to enable the community to develop. Journal clubs, clinical supervision and multidisciplinary meetings are already in place and these could be ways of healthcare professionals sharing knowledge and learning together. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (2015) state that all nurses and midwives are required to revalidate every three years to enable them to practise as registered nurses; one of my recommendations is that communities of practice could be used to keep staff updated. Inviting healthcare professionals from outside the hospice to take part in community activities would enable knowledge to flow in and out therefore enhancing patient care.