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Core competencies in palliative care

07 March 2013

The European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) has published a white paper outlining the core competencies health and social care professionals involved in palliative care should possess.

The paper presents expert opinion on the global core competencies for clinical practice in palliative care that are important for all practitioners, irrespective of discipline. The competencies were developed by studying existing curricula used across Europe and consulting with academic and clinical experts on the draft competencies. They are intended as a resource for both practitioners and educators.

The paper summarised the ten core competencies in palliative care as:

  • apply the core constituents of palliative care in the setting where patients and families are based
  • enhance physical comfort throughout patients’ disease trajectories
  • meet patients' psychological needs
  • meet patients' social needs
  • meet patients' spiritual needs
  • respond to the needs of family carers in relation to short, medium and long-term patient care goals
  • respond to the challenges of clinical and ethical decision-making in palliative care
  • practise comprehensive care co-ordination and interdisciplinary teamwork across all settings where palliative care is offered
  • develop interpersonal and communication skills appropriate to palliative care
  • practise self-awareness and undergo continuing professional development.

In addition to this work, the EAPC has also commissioned task forces on education for nurses and physicians, psychologists, physiotherapists, social workers, chaplains, occupational therapists and those who work with children, to develop specific curricula for these disciplines.

Part one of the EAPC White Paper on palliative care education, prepared by Claudia Gamondi, Philip Larkin and Sheila Payne, was published in volume 20, issue 2, of the European Journal of Palliative Care.

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