Knowledge of palliative care is essential for everyone working in healthcare

Nurse and patient at Marie Curie. Photo by Ben Blyth, photojournalism student

"The postgraduate palliative care course gave me the confidence to speak to patients without being afraid to talk about their illness and palliative care in the same sentence," said Clare, an oncology nurse and graduate of the course.

"Palliative care can be seen as a taboo subject, something we're afraid to talk about or unsure what to say. Without the right skills and training, it can be quite stressful.

This course broke down the barriers of talking about palliative care and gave me the skills to be able to explain it to a patient in a language they could understand.

It changed my practice considerably as I was able to understand my patients’ needs, to empathise with them and, importantly, to help them plan for their end of life care, particularly where they wanted to die.

It also made me understand how living with a life-limiting illness can influences a patient's daily life and how symptom control, such as pain, can become subjective as the medication causes other problems.

There were a number of us on the distance-learning course from different parts of the country and various backgrounds, including registered nurses, physios and occupational therapists.

The online discussion forums were so valuable. With our respective backgrounds, we all had different ideas and viewpoints - this made you think outside the box, working together like an MDT would.

Palliative care has an impact on everyone, and supporting patients with life limiting illnesses is essential for everyone working in healthcare.

Whether you work in a hospice, hospital, care home or community, this course will be of value."