Reaching out to the world: Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Improving palliative care in care homes

Research only makes an impact to benefit people if it is implemented, warns Professor Sheila Payne, Emeritus Professor, International Observatory on End of Life Care, Lancaster University, UK. Here, she explains how the findings of the European-funded PACE project have been adapted to a programme to improve palliative care in care homes and reinforced by a free online course.  

Professor Sheila Payne.

The aim of our online educational programme (MOOC) is to help people across the world to develop and refine palliative care offered in nursing and care homes for older people. It is based on the outcomes of a large international European Commission funded project called PACE (Palliative Care for Older People). During the study, the Lancaster University team designed and adapted to a European context a six-step programme to enable staff in care homes to increase their knowledge of palliative care and to implement change.1 This intervention was tested in a cluster randomised control trial in nursing homes in seven European countries.2 However, research only makes an impact to benefit people – if it is implemented.

So, we have been delighted to welcome more than 4,000 people from 126 countries who registered to join our FutureLearn-based MOOC called Improving Palliative Care in Care Homes. The map below shows the countries that people are from in 2021, with the largest group (38%) from the UK, followed by India (9%) and Australia (5%). Perhaps, not surprisingly, most participants are in the age range 26-45 years (39%) as the course is aimed at care workers and health professionals based in nursing and care homes. We previously ran the MOOC in 2019 and again at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Feedback indicates that the course has been helpful by increasing knowledge about how to implement the programme and enables participants to share their experiences of caring for frail older people in nursing homes.

Here are quotes from two participants:

“I have enjoyed learning about the PACE program […] What was surprising is how structured, yet simple, the program is.”

“Very insightful and shows that both management and staff need to be motivated and show commitment and enthusiasm about using the PACE Steps to Success so that it can work.”

The map shows the countries that people are from in 2021, with the largest group (38%) from the UK, followed by India (9%) and Australia (5%).


PACE Steps to Success Programme – in seven languages

The PACE Steps to Success Programme information pack and resources are available free of charge from the EAPC website at PACE Steps to Success Programme Information Pack and Tools –  in English, Finnish, Flemish, Polish, Italian, Dutch and French. For more information about the PACE project and publications see: PACE (EU FP7) – endoflifecare VUB

Benefits of free online education  

We therefore encourage all researchers to consider innovative ways to help clinicians across the world to engage in implementing research project outcomes.  Making the translation of study findings to improved care at the bedside from academic papers, even in respected journals, is challenging. Developing free online education may help to democratise access to education in the context of social and geographical restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic and may be one way to ensure better care for everyone.


I wish to thank Yakubu Salifu and Bader Rimawi for help with facilitating the MOOC, along with Anthony Greenwood, Katherine Froggatt, Danni Collingridge Moore and the Information Systems Services team at Lancaster University for helping to produce it.


  1.  Hockley J, Froggatt K, Van den Block L. Honinx E, Onwuteaka-Philipsen B, Kylanen M, Szcerbinska K, Gambassi G, Pauteux S, Payne S, et al, on behalf of PACE A framework for cross-cultural development and implementation of complex interventions to improve palliative care in nursing homes: the PACE steps to success programme BMC Health Services Research 19, 745 (2019)
  2. Van den Block L. Honinx E, Pivodic L, Miranda R, Onwuteaka-Philipsen B, van Hout H, Pasman HRW, Oosterveld-Vlug M, Ten Koppel M, Piers R, Van Den Noortgate N, Engels Y, Vernooij-Dassen M, Hockley J, Froggatt K, Payne S, et al, for the PACE trial group. (2019). Evaluation of a palliative care program for nursing homes in 7 countries: the PACE Cluster-randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med 11;180(2):1-10.

Links and resources

EXPLORE NEW DIMENSIONS  with us at 17th  EAPC World Congress Online

This entry was posted in EDUCATION & TRAINING, PACE and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Reaching out to the world: Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Improving palliative care in care homes

  1. Luisella Magnani says:

    Dearest Sheila, I thank You so much so much for this Email received by EAPC Blog. You are so right, ‘Research only makes an impact to benefit people if it is implemented’. That ‘filling up’ research owing to sensitive minds, souls and hearts, with passion, compassion and action, millisecondly. Embracing suffering, sharing it and saying: ‘I am there with You. In Your space and time I am present’. Sheila, since my mother has died in 2017, she was an oncologic patient, my studies and researches begin from prenatal age to old age, they cover all the existential time. Since last July, I have been member of UNESCO Chair for Global Health and Education, because I want to give more and more, I want to be and do all my best. I thank You so much for Your Attention to my words, dear Sheila, luisella

  2. Orsdia says:

    Your blog is very informative. thanks for sharing

  3. Pingback: Reaching out to the world: Improving palliative care in care homes – Residential Forum

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