Children’s palliative care education standard framework and self-audit tool

Ahead of an international online launch on 25 February, Sue Neilson, Katrina McNamara and Duncan Randall (on behalf of  The Children’s Palliative Care Education and Training United Kingdom and Ireland Action Group – CPCET AG), unveil a new education standard framework and audit tool the group has developed to help people learn about children’s palliative care and to coordinate and improve education and training.

Left to right: Sue Neilson, Katrina McNamara and Duncan Randall.

There is a desire to do our best for children who are receiving palliative and end-of-life care. Yet our experience tells us that accessing children’s palliative care education and training can be difficult. Particularly for informal carers and those who work in palliative care, but who are not a part of professional disciplinary groups. There is very little standardisation which allow recognition of education and training across the sector.


The UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on children who need palliative care (1) recommended that the guidance and competencies, proposed by numerous bodies and organisation, concerning children’s palliative care, needed to be aligned. In response to this recommendation, the need for a revised competency framework in the UK (2) was recognised as despite recommendations (1 – 4) no educational framework had been established across the UK. The CPCET AG was formed across UK and Ireland in 2019 with the aim of agreeing core principles of practice and standardising children’s palliative care learning. Members comprised champions from Institutes of Higher Education, clinical practice and third sector allied organisations.

Framework extends across Public Health, Universal, Core and Specialist levels

Our intention is that the framework does not regulate or limit education programmes, but provides a framework which we hope educationalists will want to use to coordinate and quality assure their programmes.

From Public Health to Specialist services

The framework extends across four levels: Public Health, Universal, Core, Specialist, and has been developed for use across all learning delivery settings and disciplines. The Public Health level addresses children’s palliative care as a community public health issue. The Universal level highlights what everyone working in institutions or facilities providing care and support to children who have palliative care needs and their carers should know. Core was designed to provide education standard to be used by various professional groups who work directly with children with palliative and end-of-life care needs. This group may also work with children with various other health/social and educational needs, but who regularly deliver direct care to children with palliative care needs. Finally, the Specialist level was designed to help those whose main work is the design, delivery and evaluation of children’s palliative and end-of-life care and who advise others on delivering care to these children and their carers (families).

These four levels can be seen as stand-alone or as incremental stages. People might require one or two levels for their role and work, or they may require all four if a specialist children’s palliative care practitioner. The levels are designed to be accessed by people from different professional backgrounds, or none.

The Pyramid approach to team learning

We encourage educators to design their courses using the Gabbay et al. 2014 (5) pyramid approach. This approach proposes that to improve practice, technical and soft skills have to be combined with learning as a team, each as a side of a pyramid, where each side has to be developed at the same time to build the pyramid. That over emphasis on one aspect will hinder the development of the pyramid, and the learning. Gabbay and his colleagues also point out that the pyramid has to be built on a secure foundation, in this case a sound institutional commitment to children’s palliative care with well-developed understanding and policies that are evident throughout the organisation.

How to access the framework and self-audit tool

We have developed a self-audit tool to enable programme leads to evaluate their course. The documents are housed on the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) website here: repository for completed self- audits can be also found on the ICPCN website; it is hoped a future review of these will inform best practice.

Join us at the international launch of the education standard framework The international launch of the education standard framework is on Thursday, 25 February 2021 at 13:00 GMT. Book your FREE ticket for this event here  (Or paste this link into your browser and register on the right-hand side of the screen):

We welcome feedback on the standards and are planning an evaluation of the framework and self-audit tool. Please email feedback to Sue Nielson.


  1. Cooper, J. (2018). End of life care: strengthening choice. An inquiry report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Children Who Need Palliative Care. Available at:
  2. Downing, J., Ling, J., Benini, F., Payne, S., & Papadatou, D. (2013). Core competencies for education in Paediatric Palliative Care. Milano, Italia: European Association for Palliative Care.
  3. Department of Health 2016 Providing high quality palliative care for our children. A strategy for children’s palliative and end of life care 2016-26. Available from:
  4. European Association for Palliative Care (2007). IMPaCCT: standards for paediatric palliative care in Europe. Eur Jour Pall Car, 14 (3), 109-14.
  5. Gabbay, J., Le May, A., Connell, C., & Klein, J. H. (2014). Skilled for improvement? Learning communities and the skills needed to improve care: An evaluative service development. London: Health Foundation.


SUBMIT YOUR ABSTRACT BY 28 FEBRUARY – abstracts on all aspects of palliative care are welcomed, including research, service development and improvement, audit and educational initiatives.

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

2 Responses to Children’s palliative care education standard framework and self-audit tool

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  2. John says:

    Thanks for the information.

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