How to do it... hospice/palliative care training

1. Hospice care is maturing quickly, and requires close attention. 

“The world of palliative and hospice care is its own nursing specialty — from understanding professional boundaries, to palliative rather than curative wound care, to managing the delicate balance involved in pain management,” says Katrina Ong, product manager for home health, hospice and palliative care at Relias Learning. “This is why many hospices are encouraging their staff to earn their Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (CHPN) certification.”

The best care engages as many staff as possible. As Ong advises, “The ability to talk about hospice and palliative care should not be confined to a small team of palliative care staff. Rather, there should be a baseline understanding of hospice and palliative care across the healthcare continuum.” 

Adds Michelle Leavitt, director of learning product strategy, HealthcareSource: “A major misconception about end-of-life and palliative care is that hospice nurses are the only ones who need to provide it. In fact, managing pain (and end-of-life care) is something that all nurses are trained to do.”

Martie Moore, RN, chief nursing officer at Medline, says leading hospice centers use a team approach. She recommends utilizing resources such as The Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Institute for Palliative Care.

2. Considered a varied education approach, Palliative care is as much art as it is science. 

“The most successful hospice and palliative care programs have truly embraced a blended learning approach,” Ong says. “It is the combination of online and hands-on training, understanding the regulations, but not missing the heart and the storytelling nature of the end of life.” 

Best-practice palliative care isn't all learned in the classroom. 

“Serving as a hospice nurse is not an innate skill,” Ong explains. “It requires emotional presence and hardiness along with revisiting nursing skills that may not be frequently used in a nurse's current role.” 

3. Formal clinical hospice education is important, but so is context.  

“Context is everything in this critical area of training,” says Jan Wilson, M.Ed., SHRM-SCP, vice president for learning design and outcomes at Redilearning. “Learners have to be able to apply training to a real world setting.” 

Moore urges providers to “assess where there are any knowledge gaps regarding hospice and palliative care within your organization and based on the assessment, design an educational program that will assure the highest standard of practice.”

4. Don't overlook the value of online learning. 

“Blended learning with a strong e-learning component is one of the best ways to provide training on end-of-life and palliative care,” Leavitt believes.

Louis Vick, senior product manager, post-acute market at Healthstream, urges providers to consider five important rules. 

He says online hospice training/education should 1) be created by a subject matter expert in the field of hospice care, 2) be updated either quarterly or semi-annually, 3) provide mobile capabilities (since so many services are now delivered outside of acute care settings), 4) allow interactivity and 5) be accredited.

5. Understand the palliative care regulatory landscape is complex and evolving. Prepare to follow its every move.

As Pat Newberry, PT, MBA, CMAC, director, clinical education at Assessment Intelligence Systems, explains, remember the Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP) began in fiscal 2014. Quality measures calculated using a sophisticated patient-level data collection tool called Hospice Item Set will serve as a method for the public and provider networks to measure the quality of the service provided.