International education – the fuel that drives palliative care

David Oliviere, Director of Education and Training, Education Centre, St Christopher’s Hospice, London, UK

David Oliviere

David Oliviere

For the past ten years I have worked at the centre of an internationally renowned palliative care education centre. It’s a job with a clear bonus: our minds and hearts opening as we learn from the several hundred clinicians from around the world who visit each year. The professional and personal friendships and networks that sometimes open up from these international contacts is what sustains many of us.

The recent Morphine Manifesto, legislative changes, new initiatives to set up or re-configure palliative services or policy developments all depend on education: the fuel that drives the delivery of care to the patient. There are a number of lessons that can be learned in the classroom and knowledge shared via the Web in an attempt to develop competence and raise standards among health and social care practitioners.

A range of courses open to international groups is available including Cardiff University’s Online programme in palliative care education ; the Leadership Development Initiative in San Diego; Lancaster University Doctorate in Palliative Care blended distance e-learning programme; the King’s College London/St Christopher’s MSc/Dip/Cert in Palliative Care; the St Christopher’s Multi-Professional Week and MP Plus courses Several international education programmes offer bursary schemes for colleagues from resource-limited settings.

Students on multi-professional course

Students from South Africa, Kenya and Romania on St Christopher’s Multi-Professional Week Bursary Programme

Resources
There are many free resource materials that support learning and practice development available from national and regional palliative care associations. The International Association for Hospice & Palliative Care publishes a list of resources, and an online ‘Global Directory of Education Programs in Palliative Care.’ A key resource is the ‘Palliative Care Toolkit – Improving care from the roots up in resource-limited settings’ and its accompanying training manuals (Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance) – now available in nine languages. St Christopher’s Library remains an international knowledge hub in palliative and end of life care.

As the global palliative care community reaches out to support and learn from each other, there is increasing representation of countries among membership of EAPC taskforces and at regional conferences. At the 19th Indian Association for Palliative Care congress in Kolkata (February 2012), delegates attended from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore and USA. In one of the poorest cities in the world, there was rich learning on the theme of ‘Education, Training and Research in Palliative Care.’ Dr Robert Twycross made a very well received keynote address including how anger can be a powerful catalyst for change.

When visiting other countries, many of us from the west apologise lest we imply that ‘they’ should develop ‘our’ type of services or suggest we know best. At St Christopher’s we are particularly sensitive to this; we are still learning and trying out for ourselves after 45 years! Come and sample what we are doing at the International Day at St Christopher’s on 26 June 2012.

There is a real chance to learn from each other: to capture best practices in one another’s settings and countries; to evolve culturally appropriate care; and to learn new teaching methods. But the question remains – does education change anything in competence at the interface with patients and communities? And if it does, what are the pre-requisites to sustain the change and inspiration after the magic of the course or speaker has ended?

Please visit the EAPC’s online calendar of events for upcoming courses and conferences.

Version francaise Pedagogie internationale



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