Education for a palliative care ready health workforce

Education across the community is needed if palliative care is to be taken up as everyone’s business. But service providers and our health workforce have varying needs and capacity. We examine the latest evidence, current initiatives and what needs to be strengthened to prepare for the expected increase in demand for quality person-centred palliative care.

Capacity of health professionals

The need to build the capacity of our service providers and health workforce through education is acknowledged across the palliative care, health and community service sectors.

The National Palliative Care Strategy 2018 highlights the need for a well informed workforce.

Currently, there are a number of government funded education initiatives that provide online and face to face palliative care training, continuing professional development options and clinical placement opportunities.

Understanding what works

Given the emphasis on person and family-centred palliative care model, as well as the diverse needs and capacity of providers and health professionals, it is important to examine the effectiveness of different approaches and what needs to be strengthened.

Tailored approaches and impact measurement needed

Recent systematic reviews highlight the need for education to be flexible and available in formats that suit the end user and the context of care. This will help address identified barriers such as location, cost, distance, learning motivation and technical abilities.

Such formats include online learning which can be useful for those with limited access or limited time. However, when deciding the delivery format or approach, it is critical to define the intended outcome e.g. knowledge or skills. In addition, support for in-house training can be important where time or resources are limited.

More importantly, evaluation of approaches to education is required to ensure money is well invested, and this should include assessment of need for education as well as assessment of impact. 

Connecting with education opportunities

CareSearch and palliAGED have dedicated sections to help support palliative care education and capacity building needs across the community and across all professions. In the CareSearch Education section, health professionals and service providers can easily choose different courses to suit their palliative care learning needs.

The palliAGED Education section connects the aged care sector with quality resources to build skills in palliative care and knowledge about the end of life.

Both our sites list online learning and formal qualifications and have additional resources for use in training. These include the palliAGED Practice Tip Sheets and the CareSearch MyLearning modules.

Read some of our Palliative Perspectives blogs related to education: