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Toolkit training to improve palliative care in developing countries

Author: Ruth Wooldridge, co-author of the Palliative Care Toolkit
28 November 2012
  • Palliative Care Toolkit cover

Encouraging and enabling people to share palliative care skills overseas was the focus of a recent training day on the Palliative Care Toolkit, organised by Help the Hospices and Palliative Care Works (PCW). Participant of the training day, Ruth Wooldridge, who is a nurse and co-author of the toolkit, reflected on the day

The idea of a workshop was the brainchild of Clare Selley, who attended the presentation of the Palliative Care Toolkit at the Help the Hospices Conference in 2011. The purpose of the day was to encourage and give confidence to anyone involved in palliative care in the UK and wishing to use their skills through training where there maybe little or no palliative care overseas.

Gillian Chowns, co-director, of PCW, coordinated the day, with other PCW colleagues leading various sessions.

Charlie Bond and Karilyn Collins kicked off the day, with a ‘Round the World in 40 minutes’ session, in which participants revealed a variety of reasons for attending the day, including: 
  • looking for a global overview on palliative care 
  • getting onto a pathway of delivering palliative care overseas
  • sharing the challenges of teaching in another language 
  • the cultural aspects and obstacles in working abroad.

Some participants with experience wanted to find out the most effective way of using the toolkit and the accompanying training manual while other participants wished to explore links with hospices and palliative care centres in the UK and those overseas.

The genesis, purpose and particular style of the Palliative Care Toolkit as a practical manual - which carries the message that there is always ‘something you can do’- was presented by the authors Dr Vicky Lavy, Dr Charlie Bond and nurse Ruth Wooldridge. 

Dr Karilyn Collins and Louise Diaz, who have both conducted toolkit training courses in Tanzania, shared their experiences from the challenges of time-keeping and getting mobiles switched off to the rewards of sharing palliative care skills through training and mentoring. Video clips taken during a training course in Tanzania vividly illustrated these problems.

The day had a buzz of excitement with opportunities for everyone present to explore aspects of palliative care possibilities globally. Questions arose ranging from how to secure funding, to developing services, to attitudes towards morphine and its availability. Participants also wanted to know about local health services, where and how the training can be embedded into those services and at what levels of care, and which methods and styles of training in communities were appropriate.

A module on teaching spiritual care was delivered during the afternoon that showed how to use the toolkit with the training manual and how they work and integrate together.

The day clearly whetted appetites and gave confidence to those wishing to do training and share their skills overseas, where there continues to be a major need and demand for palliative care education.


The Palliative Care Toolkit: Improving care from the roots up in resource-limited settings is available to download from Help the Hospices website. It is available in translations for Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Russian, Swahili, French, Bengali and Vietnamese. The accompanying trainer’s manual is also available to download, with translations of Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Bengali and French so far.

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