Education key to improving paediatric palliative services in Norway

Categories: Education.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Foreningen for Barnepalliasjon (Norwegian Association for Paediatric Palliative Care), Natasha Pedersen, recognises education as the key to improve paediatric palliative services in Norway. The biggest single challenge in Norway, and globally, remains targeting educational strategies directed at ‘palliative care naïve’ health care professionals, ensuring optimal care. The first Nordic Paediatric Palliative Conference, held in November 2015, was directed at increasing local and national attention amongst healthcare professionals, policy makers and the general public.  

Conferences, whilst important, do not meet the goals of changing professional and organisational infrastructures, without which practice reforms become more symbolic than consequential. Beginning in May 2016, Ms Pederson organised the first integrative educational programme targeting sustainable and long term improvements to existing paediatric services with Nordre Aasen centre for Competence on Child Neurology and Rehabilitation in Oslo.

Three-day program 
Dr Ross Drake, MD (New Zealand) together with Dr Susan Fowler-Kerry, RN, PhD (Canada) and Natasha Pedersen delivered a three-day programme to staff and the administrative team in May, 2016. The foundation for this programme recognised traditions utilised from primary care, namely a holistic approach and multidisciplinary workings.

Day one utilised the traditional dyadic narrative directed at providing basic line knowledge to interdisciplinary participants. Additional participants were provided opportunities to learn with, from, and about each other in interactive process.

Day two, staff and course leaders participated in clinical rounds including children and interdisciplinary professional staff. Parents were not present during this preliminary programme, albeit significant time was devoted to discussing family needs and challenges. The goal of day two provided professional staff opportunities to engage and discuss practice knowledge directed at individualising patient care with decisions that are fluid, anticipatory, contextual and patient-centered.

Day three was focused on debriefing. This opportunity provided both staff and administrators an opportunity to discuss individual care plans as well as sharing perspectives from interdisciplinary team members. The role of course leaders was to engage and facilitate shared learning experiences. 

Positive feedback
Feedback from this integrative learning experience approach was extremely positive, but most importantly participants utilised integrated knowledge to move forward with more effective clinical strategies for their children.

Approximately, 83 persons signed up for this day. Fifty of these where employees at Nordre Aasen Centre for Competence on Child Neurology and Rehabilitation, and the remaining 30 persons from different childcare and academic institutions. The participants have different levels of competence concerning paediatric palliative care. 

Looking to the future
Looking forward and into the future for paediatric palliative care in Norway, Ms. Pedersen and her team are working for educational reform targeting current practitioners and also undergraduate educational programs to provide more than a brief overview of this paediatric specialty.