Enhancing Capacity for a Palliative Approach in Rural Nursing: Educational Innovations for Nurses and Healthcare Assistants

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This practice-relevant research project addressed the problem of how to best prepare nurses and healthcare assistants in rural areas to provide a palliative approach to care for persons living with advanced chronic illness. An aging population with complex chronic illnesses requires a nursing workforce that is confident in delivering a palliative approach to care. However, in rural areas, nurses and healthcare assistants are called upon to provide this care as expert generalists, without the benefits of specialized palliative care teams or resources. Supporting rural nurses to become confident and competent in a palliative approach is an important factor in rural nursing workforce retention. In the context of this project, a palliative approach is defined as 1) an upstream orientation to care, 2) adaptation of palliative care knowledge and expertise and 3) integration and contextualization within healthcare systems.

The purpose of this project was to develop the capacity of nurses and healthcare assistants to provide a palliative approach to care for individuals and their families living with advanced chronic illness. The objectives of the project were the following:

  1. To use the best evidence to develop, offer and evaluate a curriculum in a palliative approach that meets the needs of rural nurses in light of skill mix and staffing models across practice contexts of home care, residential care and acute medicine.
  2. To pilot an innovative clinical experience in which home support and baccalaureate nursing students partner to provide care in a palliative approach for individuals and their families living with advanced chronic life-limiting illness in the community.

Team members

Researcher Co-Leader

  • Barbara Pesut

Practitioner Co-Leader

  • Gail Potter

Project Team Members

  • Tammy McLean
  • Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham
  • Gweneth Hartrick Doane
  • Deanna Hutchings
  • Barbara McLeod
  • Kelli Stajduhar