Palliative care courses designed to empower healthcare and medical sector

February 17, 2021 | Press Releases

The Hospice Palliative Care Association (HPCA) recently launched three updated palliative care courses for a diversity of healthcare providers within the healthcare and medical sector. The courses aim to provide an overview of palliative care as well as orientate and introduce health care providers to palliative care principles and processes. The courses are available in both online and face-to-face formats (in alignment with pandemic restrictions).


Says Ewa Skowronska, CEO of the HPCA: “The South African government was a co-sponsor of the World Health Assembly resolution on ‘Strengthening of palliative care as a component of integrated treatment within the continuum of care’ which calls on governments to integrate palliative care into country health systems. These courses aim to support that goal.”


The first two online course groups for the Introduction to Palliative Care for Professionals are currently in training. Subsidised by the Western Cape Department of Health, the groups include medical doctors, social workers, physiotherapists, dieticians, occupational therapists, psychologists and registered clinical nurse practitioners.


“Palliative care is often misunderstood as terminal disease care,” says Leonore Haley, Education Consultant to the HPCA. “It’s actually holistic care to patients (and their families) diagnosed with a life-threatening or life-limiting illness. It is care that helps people live their lives as fully and as comfortably as possible.


“Palliative care identifies and treats symptoms which may be physical, emotional, spiritual or social. Because palliative care is based on individual needs, the services offered will differ but often include: relief of pain and other symptoms, for example, vomiting and shortness of breath, assistance to families to come together to talk about sensitive, difficult issues, links to other services such as home help, support for people to meet cultural obligations, counselling for emotional, social and spiritual concerns, as well as bereavement support and referrals to respite care services. Spreading awareness and understanding about palliative care is essential as it could improve millions of peoples’ quality of life.”


Some of the feedback from current students is: “the course provided insight both academically and personally by expanding my knowledge into the field of life, death and the dying process,” and “…I want (colleagues) to know about palliative care because in the unit we admit patients who need to be referred for palliative care and although we have palliative facilities, my colleagues are not aware of how this facility functions. In this year, there are a lot of patients who have been diagnosed with palliative related disease.”


Says Skowronska: ““These courses range from equipping healthcare professionals with a basic palliative care skill set (the 40 hours courses in South Africa) through to advanced level (CCPN in South Africa). The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for the holistic care of individuals with life-threatening diseases. The very nature of the pandemic has highlighted the benefits of palliative care knowledge in the medical and healthcare sectors, to enable them to holistically care for those who are ill, as well as all of those who are affected by the diagnosis. South Africa has the potential to be a case study for the developing world in demonstrating the integration of palliative care into health and social welfare structures for the benefit of patients and families and we aim to wholly support that goal.”


Information on the courses is available on https://hpca.co.za/accredited-and-holistic-palliative-care-courses/.




The courses are designed for the following healthcare and medical professionals: Medical Officers, Registered Professional Nurses, Clinical Nurse Practitioners, Social and Allied Workers, Enrolled Nurses and Enrolled Nursing Assistants, Caregivers and Homebased Carers.

The cost of the courses ranges from: R5,830-00 to R26,300.

Introduction to Palliative Care for ProfessionalsFace-to-face and online40 hoursPostgraduateUCT 30 CEU and accepted as standardised by WC DoHNo closing date but minimum of 10 and up to a maximum of 20 participants per training session.
Certificate Course in Palliative NursingFace-to-face and online9 months6UCT15-Mar
Introduction to Palliative Care Course for CaregiversFace-to-face5 daysShort coursesNoneMinimum 15 up to a maximum of 20 participants per training session.