Clinical education and research department for children’s hospice in Ireland

Categories: Education.

In response to the learning needs of professionals who care for children with life limiting and terminal conditions, LauraLynn established a new Clinical Education and Research Department specifically developed for the provision of programmes, seminars and workshops for internal staff and external professional partners, lay carers and parents. Additionally a culture and ethos of research and evaluation has been fostered.

The need for a centre specifically dedicated to education and training within children’s palliative care is a recommendation of the national government policy document, Palliative Care for Children with Life-Limiting Conditions – a National Policy (Department of Health & Children 2010).  In particular, the report identified the lack of specific educational programmes that provide health professionals with the knowledge, skills and competency development required in dealing with children with life-limiting conditions. 

There is a dearth of international evidence regarding the provision of education in children’s palliative care. It is with this in mind that this new department aims to contribute towards filling the education and practice gap that exists nationally. All programmes are accredited, peer reviewed and the department has recently affiliated itself with two Irish Universities.

Upon opening, the team set out to run workshops and training programmes to educate and support all personnel on the key issues for children and their families during the palliative and end of life phase. These would include topics such as symptom management, communication needs, practical skill development and bereavement support. 

The department is led by Ms. Claire Quinn, a Registered Nurse, who has significant clinical and academic training within children’s palliative care. Claire also lectures at the National University of Ireland in Galway and is forging significant awareness and partnership between third level academic education (Medical, Midwifery, Allied Health) and clinical settings such as the Irish Health Service Executive, children’s hospitals, palliative care services, and other voluntary providers.

Claire is supported in her work by Ms Louise Neary RNT RCN, Ms Amanda Vaughan Training Administrator and Dr Rowan Hillis Research and Data Officer.  The Department also works closely with Dr. Joanne Balfe, Consultant Paediatrician with a special interest in Community Child Health and who works at LauraLynn, Ireland’s Children’s Hospice and the National Children’s Hospital in Dublin.

First conference
This new Clinical Education and Research Department will support the strategic objectives of LauraLynn Ireland’s Children’s Hospice in caring for all children with life-limiting and palliative care needs by ensuring an educated and highly skilled workforce. The department aims to fully collaborate with external professional colleagues who share an interest in the clinical and training needs of those caring for children with life-limiting and terminal conditions including tertiary, primary health and palliative care services. This is already evident in the collaborative nature of the first collaborative Irish children’s palliative care conference due to be held from 29 – 30  November 2013. The conference aims to bring together experts in the field of children’s palliative care and provide an opportunity for delegates to hear the latest research, be challenged by keynote speakers and build valuable networks.

The programme for this conference reflects the range of services, knowledge and approaches to caring for a child and their family.  Those involved in organising and presenting at this conference recognise that working together is the best way to achieve excellence in care for children with life-limiting conditions and their families.

Should you wish to learn more, please contact Claire Quinn at

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