Palliative Care eLearning Programme for Secondary Students

by Gazette Reporter
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St Francis Hospice Dublin and All Ireland Institute for Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC) today officially launched a new eLearning programme to teach secondary school pupils in Ireland about palliative care and the role of hospices in helping people with life limiting illnesses to achieve the best quality of life possible.

The launch took place during Palliative Care Week, an all-Ireland initiative to raise awareness and provide education about palliative care. The staff and students of Santa Sabina school, Sutton, who piloted the eLearning package earlier this year, were on hand for the launch.

The eLearning package is available to all secondary schools on the island of Ireland through the AIIHPC’s Palliative Hub. It consists of an introductory video, an animation, pre- and post-learning questionnaires, a support pack for teachers, and a list of further resources. 

The programme was developed by Barbara Sweeney, Head of Education in St Francis Hospice Dublin, as part of a Fellowship she was awarded by AIIHPC.

anta Sabina 5th Year Students Mikki Kong, Zoe Dunne and Ella Clarke, who helped to pilot the eLearning package last spring, pictured with Barbara Sweeney, Head of Education, St Francis Hospice Dublin and Yvonne McCahill, Communications Manager, All Ireland Institute for Hospice and Palliative Care

Karen Charnley, Director, AIIHPC welcomed today’s announcement, “AIIHPC was delighted to support Barbara in the development of these excellent resources through the AIIHPC Educational Fellowship Awards.

“During Palliative Care Week, we are reminded of the importance of educating people of all ages about the huge benefits that palliative care can bring to people with life-limiting conditions. These resources will enable young people to learn about palliative care in a relatable way and we hope they will feel more comfortable having conversations about palliative care,” Ms Charnley said.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, St Francis Hospice Dublin provided outreach education sessions to secondary schools in the hospice’s catchment area of North Dublin city and county. Barbara’s motivation for initiating the school outreach programme and for developing the eLearning package is rooted in her clinical experience over more than two decades as a palliative care nurse. She met so many people who told her they would have accessed hospice services sooner if only they had known how much it could help them, or if only they hadn’t been so fearful of the concept of hospice care. 

“It’s so important that young adults understand what palliative care is and the benefits it can bring to people experiencing a wide range of illnesses and conditions. As members of our community, they are our future patients and family members. There could even be future healthcare colleagues or hospice volunteers among them. Mostly, we want to ensure that they are not afraid, that they understand the life and vitality of the place, as staff and volunteers help people to live as well as possible within the realities of their illness.”

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