Starting on Monday 17 October 2016 and lasting three weeks, the online course is coordinated by the International Observatory on End of Life Care and hosted on the Future Learn website.
Week one focuses on the concept of palliative care. Week two explores how palliative care can be integrated. Week three discusses how integrated palliative care can or could work. Each week takes about one to two hours to complete.
Yesterday I sat down to do and preview the course. I wanted to experience it and to see why it might be useful to those involved in palliative care in any setting.
So why bother to take part in the course?
It is surprising. To be honest I was expecting similar content to other palliative care courses; reminding us of the definitions of palliative care, why it is important etc. Of course, it did cover this and how these definitions are evolving. It moved from talking about what and why palliative care is important to examples of how to take integrated palliative care into practice. It felt thoughtful and practical, and based on experience, practice and research.
It is thought provoking. There are examples and experiences (both good and bad) from across Europe shared by a variety of patients, clinicians and researchers. While some of the videos are longer than 10 minutes, they are worth watching and easy to pause and restart as necessary.
It is interactive and well designed with a combination of discussion boards (where the course mentors will be involved), videos, and reflective spaces with trigger questions. Every segment is well introduced, with objectives or context for videos and discussions. Nearly 5,000 people across the world have already registered to take part and I can envisage lively debate, discussion and knowledge exchange over the three-week course.
It is useful with practical examples, resources and further reading. It is definitely something that could be included into continuous professional development and revalidation objectives. I can see how some of the resources, videos or questions could be used for education in groups or teams outside of the MOOC.
It is evidenced based and delivered by a variety of experts. While Dr Nancy Preston from Lancaster University takes us through the whole three weeks, we hear from researchers and clinicians across Europe. Much of the MOOC is based on the work of the Integrated Palliative Care InSup-C research study.
So who do I recommend to take part in the MOOC?
The course is aimed at staff working in palliative care, whatever their role or setting, as well as anyone with an interest in palliative care. I would recommend it to not only these groups but also patients and families, as well as trustees and non-clinical staff.
Why? Because it is thought provoking as well as practical. It is evidenced based as well as policy aware. The final video in week three from Professor Sheila Payne makes recommendations from a policy, organisational or individual level.
Hospice care is concerned with compassionate care, symptom control, education and research. This MOOC course contributes to this in a very accessible and credible way.