Developing core competencies for children’s palliative care: EAPC publishes new white paper

Professor Julia Downing, Director of Education and Research, International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN); Team Leader EU-funded project on the Development of Palliative Care in Serbia and Professor at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, explains the background to a longer article published in the September/October edition of the European Journal of Palliative Care.

Professor Julia Downing

Professor Julia Downing

“I met the girl’s mother in the Dom Zradvija (a health centre in Serbia) – she was in tears as her daughter is dying and she wants our home care team to go and visit. I really want to help her but don’t feel competent to do so – please can you give us some training to help us?”

These were the words of a nurse that I met recently in Serbia. She, like many other health professionals in Europe, and indeed around the world, did not feel competent in the provision of palliative care for children. As we talked more, she told me how she did not know how to talk to young children about their illness and death and dying; she was worried that the girl would be in pain, and she did not feel competent about managing her pain. Thus, for this nurse, and all the others who don’t feel competent, education and training in children’s palliative care is key, and yet for many people, such training is not available.

It is important that health and social care professionals, whether working specifically in children’s palliative care, or those working in the community caring for children at home, feel confident in providing such care. Thus, following a survey of existing educational programmes in the region, the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) Children’s Task Force set out to develop a list of core competencies for children’s palliative care. The resulting white paper, published in the September issue of the European Journal of Palliative Care, outlines competencies for each of the three levels of education adopted by the EAPC, ie the palliative care approach, general palliative care and specialist palliative care. The focus of the paper is aimed at the second and third levels of education, ie general and specialist children’s palliative care, outlining the key domains and minimum competencies for each domain such as enhancing physical comfort, identifying and responding to the child’s psychosocial, educational and spiritual needs, and facilitating communication and decision-making.

There are a variety of training programmes available on children’s palliative care throughout Europe, yet in many countries such programmes are still hard to access or even non-existent. I hope that this white paper will guide the development and provision of education programmes in children’s palliative care across the region. It provides a competency framework around which to develop training programmes, as well as guiding the health professionals themselves. I hope that one day, all health professionals, such as the nurse I met in Belgrade, will be trained to provide care and be confident in their knowledge and skills in order to provide quality palliative care for children in need.

EJPC215cover-2To read a copy of the full article…
This post relates to a longer article, ‘Summary of the EAPC White Paper on core competencies for education in paediatric palliative care’ by Julia Downing, Julie Ling, Franca Benini, Sheila Payne and Danai Papadatou, published in the September/October 2014 issue of the European Journal of Palliative Care (vol. 21.5).  If you have a web-based subscription to the journal you can download this issue, plus all articles in the journal archive. You can also browse the archive and download articles by taking a 10-minute or 30-minute subscription. Members of the EAPC receive discounted subscription rates to the journal – click here to subscribe online. 

Links and resources…




This entry was posted in CHILDREN'S PALLIATIVE CARE, EAPC White Papers, Guidelines & Recommendations, EAPC-LINKED JOURNALS, European Journal of Palliative Care and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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