​What started in 2013 came full circle when the team became one of only two teams and ten individuals to be given the ELNEC Award.   The team was to address complexities of end-of-life care, and standardise basic palliative nursing across SGH by integrating the ELNEC into clinical practice.

The journey started with six registered nurses (RNs) attending the ELNEC core curriculum and train-the-trainer workshops at Dover Park Hospice. 

The innovative team initiated modification of contents to suit local context and practices, rolling out ELNEC in-service training to educate 1,000 RNs and another 36 trainers within two years.

With strong support from Group Chief Nurse Dr Tracy Ayre, the current pool of ELNEC trainers has now expanded to include different specialities including Neurology, Oncology, Surgery, Renal Medicine, ICU, as well as palliative nurses from NCCS, among others.

Team lead Senior Nurse Clinician Diana See,  said, “There were some gaps in how we were dealing with end-of-life care and we truly believed this programme will help us move in tandem with the national agenda of improving palliative care services.”

The significant increase in end-of-life care awareness among RNs is heartening to the pioneer trainers who have been dedicating their time to the cause.   A next step for the team will be extending ELNEC training to Enrolled Nurses (ENs) and Patient Care Assistants as they are important team members in the delivery of quality care to patients and their families.

“The training adds value to the end-of-life journey and allows nurses to truly bond over personal stories.   We could see that nurses share a deep passion for their work and it didn't matter that we have different backgrounds or cultural beliefs,” said SGH Nurse Clinician / Advanced Practice Nurse Intern Amy Lim.

It was encouraging for the learners and teachers to have deeper appreciation of challenges patients and their families face during their illness and use that knowledge to build up their confidence in providing quality end-of-life care.

“We're experiencing significant improvements as we were facing knowledge deficit when it came to palliative care previously.   With the systematic teaching, palliative nursing is now much smoother as general ward nurses can already identify and initiate care and medication before specialist palliative care nurses are referred,” shared NCCS Nurse Clinician / Advanced Practice Nurse Intern, Xu Zhi Zhen.

A positive outlook towards end-of-life care
One of the key takeaways from the ELNEC was perhaps the changed mindset many of the participants had towards the taboo topic of death.

“I was able to apply what I learnt when I took care of my grandmother at home in her final days - to manage her care better, allowing her a peaceful passing and also helped the family cope with the loss.”
Tan Sheng Lian, Senior Staff Nurse, SGH Ward 72

“The trainers gave me a better understanding of how palliative patients feel when they are in pain, and how their families react to the seeing their loved ones slip away.”
Tan Pei Jie, Senior Staff Nurse, SGH Ward 48