New development for Irish children’s palliative/complex care nursing

Continuing our series of posts, in collaboration with the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) Paediatric Taskforce, about children’s palliative care with examples of initiatives that aim to improve care for children, young people and their families. 

Today, Claire Quinn, Lecturer and Programme Director, School of Nursing and Midwifery, National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway, Ireland, shares exciting news of a new MSc in Health Sciences (Children’s Palliative and Complex Care).

Claire Quinn. (Picture Conor McCabe Photography).

Claire Quinn. (Picture Conor McCabe Photography).

We are delighted to let you know about the launch of a new Irish Master’s in Health Sciences (Children’s Palliative/Complex Care Nursing). What’s more, we have just heard that it’s been nominated for two Higher Education Awards by Grad Ireland – Best New Course and best Health Sciences Course.  We are so thrilled to have achieved this in such a small space of time.

The course was developed under the guidance of Claire Quinn (NUI Galway) and Professor Philip Larkin, School of Nursing and Midwifery University College Dublin and President of the EAPC. The two universities have united to develop this innovative programme. The collaboration is in response to the growing number of Irish children living with life-limiting and palliative care needs – currently estimated at 4,000 children (Ling et al 2015) – and the requirement to equip staff with the skills to meet the care needs of children across a wide variety of settings (IHF/HSE 2013).

This unique programme commenced on 1st September 2016, It aims to equip nurses with the necessary in-depth, evidence-based knowledge, skills and competencies to ensure a nursing workforce that can deliver safe, quality care to growing numbers of highly dependent children and young people as they live with complex and life-limiting illness. Paediatric palliative/complex care nurses require a comprehensive understanding of the experience of palliative, complex care from neonates to adolescents to deliver reflective, family-centred and evidence-based practice (Goldman, Hain and Liben, 2012). The programme will consider the main concepts in children’s palliative/complex care whilst recognising ethnic and cultural diversity as a reality within modern Irish society.

nui-galway_msc-in-health-sciences-childrens-palliative-complex-care_final-1This new MSc programme considers the developing requirements for specialist nursing practice for children corresponding to the document ‘Palliative Care for All’ (The Irish Hospice Foundation 2008), and the subsequent Irish Policy for Children with Life-Limiting Conditions (DoH&C 2010), which encourage professional development for nurses caring for children with palliative care needs and their families.

The new programme, which is approved by The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland and by the Irish Health Service Executive, has both theoretical and clinical components. The central aspects of palliative and complex care are critically examined within the new curriculum and the programme learning objectives are based on the core competencies for children’s palliative care (EAPC 2013, HSE 2014). A ‘blended learning’ approach (online distance learning combined with formal face-to-face lectures) is utilised which is known as a flexible approach to learning, making it possible for nurses to combine working full time with studying. As part of the programme, the programme director and student will create a unique personal development plan to assist the student in advancing their practice for the specialty. 

Core modules within the Master’s programme

These include Service Improvement, Clinical Governance: Supporting Safe Practice, Advanced Research Methods. Specialist Modules include Quality of Life and Symptom Management in Children’s Palliative/Complex Care, Care of the Child and Family with Palliative/Complex Needs, Specialist Understanding of Complex Care for Children. Two clinical practicum modules are also included to ensure that the student has exposure to the clinical setting to validate their theoretical learning.

Overall, this new programme will prepare nurses for the evolving and hugely rewarding speciality of children’s palliative care, and ensure that the nursing workforce of the future will have the skills to support children and families in the location of choice.

Links and resources

Read more in this series on Children’s Palliative Care on the EAPC Blog.  Next week, Professor Julia Downing, Chief Executive of the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) writes about the work of this global network.

This entry was posted in CHILDREN'S PALLIATIVE CARE, EDUCATION & TRAINING and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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