Dr Nancy Preston and Dr Sean Hughes, International Observatory on End of Life Care, Lancaster University, UK, explain how a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) has provided free online training for health and social care workers, patients, carers and academics from across the world. And now a second course is soon to launch . . .
To improve the understandings and provision of palliative care, we need to engage and train our successors in the workforce and raise the profile of the field. Whilst some countries provide palliative care education to specialist staff, most day-to-day care is carried out by generalists. Palliative care is only part of their role and they are not likely to have received any training in the specialism – if any. Most health and social care workers will have some contact with dying people and their families. We know that many do not feel sufficiently skilled in this work and in knowing when palliative care is an appropriate option. This is complicated further by limited integration of palliative care in general health care provision.
Regular readers of this blog will be aware that an EU funded study, InSup-C, was conducted to evaluate the provision of integrated palliative care in five European nations, concluding in late 2016. Our findings were published in academic papers and presented at conferences. But these only reach a small proportion of the research community and an even smaller proportion of the general health and social care workforce and general public. To bridge this gap, we developed a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called: ‘Palliative care: Making it work’. We ran this free course – requiring only an Internet connection – in October 2016. The MOOC comprised three consecutive weeks of learning activities, each dedicated to a different aspect of our study findings. It provided a rich mix of videos, short lectures, discussion activities and written work.
More than 6,500 people enrolled from 72 countries and from every continent. They included health and social care workers of all types, as well as patients, carers and academics. Three thousand of these were ‘active learners’ who regularly engaged in the educational activities with some receiving completion certificates to evidence continued professional development. The feedback from participants was extremely good and the MOOC was supported by key organisations such as Hospice UK.
An e-book summarising study results was available to download – increasing traffic to the research website by more than 1,000 per cent. InSup-C open access research articles in academic journals also experienced increased interest with one achieving a ‘top ten most cited paper’ for that palliative care journal in 2016.
Sign up to the new MOOC – starting 5 June
Various people have asked us about running the MOOC again. A new course is starting on 5 June 2017 and you are welcome to join or to recommend it to others. We are also giving participants the opportunity to give feed-back on some of the recommendations from our study. Check the website here.
Download a free copy of Integrated Palliative Care, edited by InSup-C project members, Jeroen Hasselaar and Sheila Payne, and published in September 2016. Available in both English and Spanish.