Answer: All health care institutions should ensure their nurses are educated in primary palliative care!
There are approximately 117 million Americans living with serious illness. With the growing numbers of persons with multiple chronic conditions and increasing life-span of those with serious illness, the demand for palliative care in the U.S. is overwhelming. Specialty palliative care providers are unable to meet this demand. It is imperative that health care providers are prepared to provide primary palliative care for those who do not require specialty palliative care. Education is the answer to this challenge!
Why Would Educating Nurses at My Institution in Palliative Care Benefit My Health Care System?
Nurses spend more time at the bedside of patients and with their families than any other health care professionals. Nurses have the ability to meet the primary palliative care needs of the seriously ill, but they cannot do what they do not know. The End-of-Life-Nursing-Education (ELNEC) Project has been educating nurses for more than 17 years at national, regional, and international courses. With Relias, ELNEC offers this education electronically – improving access to this critical education! Online curricula available for practicing nurses are ELNEC-Core, for most medical surgical nurses, ELNEC-Pediatrics, ELNEC-Geriatrics, and ELNEC- Critical Care. The education covers essential primary palliative care skills such as pain and symptom management, communication skills in difficult conversations and care transitions, as well as care at end-of-life.
Furthermore, research has demonstrated that quality palliative care benefits not only the patients and families, as evidenced by improved patient experience/satisfaction scores, but also lowers health care costs. Nurses educated in palliative care skills are able to facilitate advance care planning and goals of care conversations, ensuring that patients with life-limiting illnesses, who do not want to continue with aggressive, disease-oriented treatment, are able have their wishes for their final months, weeks or days honored. Coordination of care for these patients decrease unnecessary and unwanted emergency room visits or 30-day readmissions.
The minimal cost of educating nurses will be easily offset by the health care savings associated with quality palliative care. Make sure YOUR nurses are prepared to provide primary palliative care. Your patients and families will be grateful for this care, and your bottom line will too.
To learn more about how to prepare your staff to provide palliative care, register for our free webinar, Primary Palliative Care for All: Are Your Nurses Prepared?, presented in conjunction with our partner, ELNEC.