Education news

Ireland's first masters nursing degree in children's palliative care launched

Claire Quinn, lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, NUI Galway

A NEW postgraduate course aims to equip specialised nurses with the skills to care for children and adolescents with complex, life-limiting and terminal conditions.

NUI Galway in collaboration with UCD, are the first in Ireland to respond to the needs of health services by providing such training.

The dedicated masters/postgraduate degree in health sciences at the School of Nursing and Midwifery specialises in children's palliative and complex care.

It aims to help nurses deal with the increasing numbers of children and adolescents who have complex, life-limiting or terminal conditions and require care in a variety of settings.

The School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway has just been recognised for its work and nominated in the Top 100 Globally (15th in Europe) for the subject nursing in the 2017 QS World University Subject Rankings.

Palliative and complex care for children differs from care for adults in that many children requiring this type of care have life-limiting conditions, as opposed to advanced terminal conditions.

Children may survive many years with these complex conditions. The needs of these children differ from the needs of adults and many live with severe disability and require constant care.

The paediatric palliative care nurse for children with complex care requirements plays a key role as a member of the team. These nurses require a comprehensive understanding of the experience of palliative and complex care from neonates to adolescents, and their families. In order to meet the needs of a variety of children requiring this care, the new programme will provide nurses with the broad skills necessary to meet the needs of children across a wide variety of settings.

Claire Quinn, lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, said there were at least 3,840 children in Ireland living with complex life-limiting conditions and this number was increasing yearly due to medical advances.

"Children who have complex care requirements or reach the end-of-life deserve the very highest standard of care delivered in a place of their choosing and provided by expert paediatric palliative care nurses," she said.

"Unfortunately, it is acknowledged that in Ireland today there is an absence of nursing staff that can demonstrate the very special skills to work in this demanding field of nursing practice."

Orla Keegan, Head of Education, Research and Bereavement Services at the Irish Hospice Foundation, said access to education was vital to ensure that nurses helping children with the most complex of needs had the competence and skill required to do so.

"For the past 10 years the Irish Hospice Foundation has financially supported children's palliative care training at basic and intermediate level," she said.

"We have continually advocated the need for an advanced postgraduate education programme to complete the learning opportunities for palliative care nurses and are delighted with this new MSc programme from NUI Galway and UCD. Health services will welcome this initiative which clears the way for advanced nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists to provide local expertise in the care of children with palliative care needs."

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