PLANS are in the pipeline to develop educational links between a Dorset hospice, other hospices and a university in the south west.

Ruth Burnhill, director of nursing at the Weldmar Hospicecare Trust, aims to make the charity a ‘specialised centre’ for end-of-life education in the region in the next five years.

Ruth helped oversee the merger of CancerCare Dorset, the Joseph Weld Hospice and the Trimar Hospice in 2004 .

She believes patients now benefit from a more ‘seamless service’ as the charities work together without competing for funds.

Weldmar’s specialist palliative care nurses already play a key role in educating other professionals in care homes, community hospitals and hospitals about end-of-life care and now Ruth aims to expand on this.

She said: “Our plan for education is to develop links with St Margaret’s Somerset Hospice in Taunton and Yeovil. The University of the West of England may also get involved.

“We hope to advertise for a strategic educator who can help us to become a specialised education centre for the south west in the future.”

She added: “We are rather isolated here in terms of geographical location and being able to link up with universities. In cities, a hospice can have access to university courses but here students would have to travel.

“My hope is to get an education system up and running so we can also reach out to the public and schools.

“We’re starting teaching in senior schools next year and will join their debates on, for example, euthanasia as this is what teachers have asked for.”

Ruth was attracted to the Weldmar role because it linked ‘the community, hospital and the hospice’.