Ukraine’s second palliative care training centre opens in Kharkiv

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Until November this year, Ukraine’s only palliative care training centre was in the Ivano-Frankivsk district, more than 1000km away from Kharkiv in the far West of the counrty. “In Ukraine, a lot of doctors and other medical staff would like to know and learn more about palliative care, but it is a long way for them to travel to get to the Ivano-Frankivsk district,” said Kseniya Shapoval, Palliative Care Initiative Coordinator for the International Renaissance Foundation in Ukraine.

The training centre has been opened in collaboration with the Kharkiv district palliative care centre, the oldest palliative care centre in Ukraine, with input from national palliative care advocates and the Kharkiv medical college.

Ms Shapoval spoke about the target audience for the training centre. She said: “We would like to work with medical nurses, but also we would like to work with family physicians, to increase their knowledge of palliative care.”

The training centre uses two accredited training programmes, the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) and Education in Palliative and End-of-life Care (EPEC). The programmes were developed in the US and have been translated into Ukrainian for use at the centre.

The teaching at the centre follows international standards. With the training centre based at the Kharkiv Oblast palliative care centre, courses will have a strong practical component. “Trainees will have the opportunity to work with patients and to learn how to communicate well with them,” says Ms Shapoval.

Pain management has been a highly contested topic in Ukraine. Trainees will learn how to manage pain, as well as learning about regulations around using opioids in medical units or hospitals. 

Ms Shapoval said: “Following recent changes to opioid legislation in Ukraine, patients can now get oral morphine and have this at home for 10-15 days. It is important that we teach this, because a lot of family doctors are still not aware of this change.”

The training at the centre will also include seminars around legal issues such as palliative care as a human right, laws and regulations pertaining to palliative care and adequate pain relief.

There are five main trainers at the centre, who are supported by national palliative care experts who teach on a part-time basis. A portion of the teaching will be done by human rights organizations volunteers, as well as members of the hospice home care team. Ms Shapoval reported plans to invite speakers from the nation drug control service and ministry of interiors.

The new training centre will accommodate 20-30 people per group with about 12 groups per year. Ms Shapoval is optimistic about the capacity to expand these numbers. She says: “As we know previously from the Ivano-Frankivsk training centre, they have 800 students per year. So we hope that we will have about 500 people enrolled in the future.

“We are going to teach not only medical staff, but also social workers and other members of the multi-disciplinary team.”

Stay tuned to ehospice for updates about the centre, including the launch of their website in the new year.  

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