Background The importance for healthcare professionals (HCPs) to be trained in palliative and end-of-life care (PEoLC) was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic (Porter, Zile, Peryer, et al., 2021. Soc Sci Med. 287:114397). With the Health and Care Bill (UK Parliament, 2022) making PEoLC a core specialty, there will be an emphasis on training HCPs to deliver generalist palliative care. The European Certificate of Essential Palliative Care (ECEPC) (Sadler, Watson & Gannon, 2021; Reed, Todd, Lawton, et al., 2018. Palliat Med. 32: 571) is a widely recognised certificate programme which has trained over 8000 HCPs since 2001.
Aim To understand candidates’ motivation for undertaking the ECEPC and if the course, despite its short duration, has changed candidates’ clinical practice.
Methods Candidates are invited to participate in an online survey six months after starting the course. An initial thematic analysis of responses from the summer 2021 cohort was performed.
Results 17 responses were received from HCPs working in acute trusts, community settings and hospices. Candidates were unanimous in undertaking the course to improve clinical practice and build skills, knowledge and confidence in PEoLC. Nine (53%) respondents undertook the course to aid career progression. Course topics identified as most beneficial were symptom recognition and management, holistic care and disease-specific information. The true-to-life clinical scenarios in written resources and the course handbook for ongoing reference were stated as useful. Application of new knowledge in communication skills, recognition of spinal cord compression and other medical emergencies and ongoing confidence in performing holistic assessments was evident. Candidates reported supporting colleagues and sharing knowledge.
Discussion An initial survey of ECEPC candidates demonstrates that their PEoLC knowledge and skills improved and they felt confident to share new knowledge with colleagues. Since PEoLC knowledge has been identified as a priority for HCPs (National Palliative and End of Life Care Partnership, 2021), demonstration of the benefits of this established 8-week home-study programme and its value as a stepping stone to career progression is encouraging. Results from the following cohort will be included in the upcoming complete analysis.
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