CareSearch Blog: Palliative Perspectives

The views and opinions expressed in our blog series are those of the authors and are not necessarily supported by CareSearch, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health.

Designed effective palliative care education

A guest blog post by Suzanne Cosgrove, National Program Manager, Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach (PEPA)

  • 3 September 2019
  • Author: Guest
  • Number of views: 1322
Designed effective palliative care education

The Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach (PEPA) forms part of the Palliative Care Education and Training Collaborative. As a national palliative care project, this Collaborative takes a strategic approach to education and training of the health workforce and delivers programs for priority health care provider groups across primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare settings.

Specifically, PEPA aims to enhance the capacity of health professionals to deliver a palliative care approach through their participation in either clinical placements in specialist palliative care services or interactive workshops. PEPA as part of the collaborative with Palliative Care Curriculum for Undergraduates (PCC4U) has educational materials to support palliative care knowledge online.

PEPA provides opportunities to develop health professionals and workers confidence, knowledge and skills in the palliative approach to care through:

  • funded clinical workforce placements or workshops
  • integration of learning into your workplace
  • establishing networks of support

Funded Clinical workforce placements are a key education experience for PEPA participants. PEPA supports carers, aboriginal health workers, allied health, nurses and doctors to attend a placement within a specialist palliative care service in acute care, community care or the hospice environment. The placements can be 2-4 days in length and the site of the placement is something that is negotiated with each participant. PEPA has managers of the program in each state and territory across Australia who work with each participant individually to understand which placement need would benefit each participant’s learning and practice need. ‘I was exposed to both patient palliative care in a hospital setting and in a community setting. It was a great opportunity to see the way they both worked to care for patients’ (Cathy, ALO, NSW). PEPA’s focused connection of participant to PEPA mentors exposes the participants to palliative care experiences that assist their learning through experience. Participants state that they are ‘overwhelmed at the generosity of the patients and staff who allow them to see the care and emotion that they are negotiating through the palliative care relationship’ (Kath, RN, SA). Participants note the conversations they witness on placement help them to understand what they need to develop in themselves so they may go back to work and build this into their practice with patients. ‘Because of my PEPA placement I was able to confidently discuss the end of life process with a patient's son who was actively dying, what symptoms to expect and the management etc… so we could transfer her back to the nursing home for comfort care’ (Kendell, RN, ACT).

PEPA placement participants evaluate their learning immediately pre and post their placement experience for changes to knowledge and confidence in practicing a palliative approach to care. PEPA then again evaluates participant’s 3 months post-placement so as to measure the impact the placement may have had on their ongoing practice when caring for people with a life-limiting illness.

Our current National data from 1 July 2017 – 31 March 2019 of 509 placements show a 25% increase in participant confidence to provide a palliative approach to care and more than 98% of participants would recommend a PEPA placement to their colleagues. 

For more information regarding the PEPA project, email Sue Cosgrove

Profile picture of Suzanne Cosgrove



Suzanne Cosgrove, National Program Manager, Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach (PEPA)


To find other education and training options in palliative care visit the CareSearch Education section and for palliative care education, training and learning opportunities that can support people working in aged care and primary care visit the palliAGED Training and Education section


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The CareSearch blog Palliative Perspectives informs and provides a platform for sharing views, tips and ideas related to palliative care from community members and health professionals. 

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