An important document has been published and is now available for download which provides a guide to core competencies for education in children’s palliative care. The report was compiled by the EAPC’s Children’s Palliative Care Education Task Force, and the authors include Prof. Julia Downing (UK and ICPCN); Dr Julie Ling (Ireland); Dr Franca Benini (Italy); Prof Sheila Payne (UK) and Dr Danai Papadatou (Greece). The authors have drawn upon their work experiences in many different parts of Europe.
Prof Julia Downing, co-author and lead on education and research for the International Children’s Palliative Care Network said, “We are excited that these competencies have been published. A lot of work has gone into the development of this white paper, and we have been having requests from around the world for such a document. We hope that these competencies will help in the ongoing development of education programmes for children’s palliative care and therefore improve the care of children throughout Europe and beyond.”
The writing of the report was supported by the Fondazione Maruzza Lefebvre D’Ovidio Onlus (The Maruzza Foundation) an independent non‐profit organization based in Rome, Italy, that advocates globally for effective and sustainable palliative care and pain management for all those in need.
In their introduction to the document, the Maruzza Foundation’s Sylvia Lefebvre, and EAPC President, Sheila Payne, suggest that health professionals need the ability to hold in balance their cognitive skills and their emotional engagement with the child and family stating that this core curriculum demonstrates how this balance can be achieved, through planned and purposeful education and reflective practice. They go on to say that “Care provided by well‐educated, questioning and continuously updated health and social care professionals offers children and parents the best options that are available in whatever setting they are currently living in.”
Guidelines within the report focus mainly on general and specialist education in paediatric palliative care. Materials have been drawn from existing competency frameworks and curricula and have been designed to complement other EAPC documents on education and/or paediatric palliative care such as the IMPaCCT Standards for paediatric palliative care in Europe, the Education and Training Curriculum in Paediatric Palliative Care (NHPCO, 2003), the White paper on core competencies in palliative care (Gamondi et al 2013) and the White paper on standards and norms for hospice and palliative care in Europe (Radbruch et al 2009, 2010).
The 12 core competencies proposed by the report are:
- Demonstrate and apply the core aspects of palliative care in the setting where children and families are based.
- Demonstrate the range of knowledge on infants’, children’s and adolescents’ development and family functioning, and how these are affected by a life threatening illness.
- Enhance physical comfort throughout the child’s disease trajectories including end‐of‐life care.
- Identify and respond to the child’s psychosocial, educational and spiritual needs in palliative care.
- Assess and respond to the needs of family carers.
- Respond to the challenges of clinical and ethical decision‐making in children’s palliative care.
- Facilitate communication and decision making during crisis and end‐of‐life care.
- Demonstrate capacity for interdisciplinary teamwork and inter‐professional collaboration.
- Develop interpersonal and communication skills appropriate to children and adolescents, including demonstrating capacity to break bad news and teaching parents how to provide care for the seriously ill child.
- Assess the grief process, respond to the distinct needs of bereaved parents, siblings and significant others and provide appropriate support.
- Practise reflective practice, self‐awareness, and self‐care.
- Raise community awareness about palliative care for children and adolescents.
Asked to comment on the publication of the report, Joan Marston, ICPCN’s CEO said “This important publication from the EAPC will be a very helpful guide for those developing or reviewing curricula for paediatric palliative care in many countries. The ultimate beneficiaries will be the children receiving care from skilled and competent professionals. The ICPCN congratulates the EAPC Children’s Taskforce on developing this much-needed document.”
To download a free copy of the report, go to: http://www.eapcnet.eu/Corporate/Newsmedia/PublicationsDocuments.aspx