Easing Pain and Suffering
with serious, life-limiting, chronic illness experience significant
suffering. Fortunately there are new and
developing treatments which may cure some and improve survival for many people
living with serious illness. However, seriously ill people and their loved
ones still experience many distressing physical symptoms as well as spiritual,
social and psychological distress. There
is much we can do to support people to live well with serious and life-limiting
illness by understanding the causes of suffering, using effective
communications, and incorporating careful assessments and interventions
designed to address specific needs. The
Palliative Care: It’s not Just Hospice Specialization covers core concepts on
the nature of suffering and demonstrates how
to evaluate suffering and illustrates this in realistic patient scenarios. In
subsequent weeks we learn and practice specific skills to improve communication
with patients and families to help them express their experience, express and understand
their core goals and values and our own empathic response. You
will also learn about specific problems such as physical pain, fatigue and shortness of breath as well as psychological issues such as
depression and anxiety. In addition,
spiritual and social distress will be discussed with a focus on the practical
evaluation and management of these challenges. All of these skills will enable
you to support people to live active and full lives despite serious illness.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care provides invaluable help for patients living with serious or life-limiting illness and their family caregivers. Palliative care should be part of healthcare services to improve quality of life, the ability to tolerate and benefit from treatment and improve survival. In this course, you will learn about the nature of suffering and how this concept can help you understand the experience of people living with serious illness. Next, you will learn skills to more effectively communicate with patients, families and other care providers to both understand their experiences and provide an extra layer of support. In the next module you will explore your own core values and beliefs and how they impact your work with others. Finally, you will learn how to do a whole person assessment to understand the needs of people with serious illness so you can develop a plan to support them. You will be able to immediately use these insights, skills and tools in your work with people living with serious illness. In later courses, you will learn to ease pain and other symptoms, such as loss of appetite, shortness of breath and fatigue. In the final course, you will explore ways to ease psycho-social-spiritual distress. These courses will prepare you to bring basic palliative care to all in need.
Pain Management: Easing Pain in Palliative Care
In this course, you will be able to develop a systems view for assessing and managing pain in the palliative care setting. By the end of the course, you will be able to: 1) Describe the pain problem in the palliative care setting; 2) Assess a person’s pain, 3) Explain the benefits of integrative therapies and pharmacologic strategies to manage pain.
Easing Physical Symptoms: It's Not Just Hospice Anymore
Palliative care provides important support for people living with serious or life-limiting illnesses and their family caregivers. In this course, you will learn to use symptom assessment tools to better understand which symptoms are present and which are most distressing. In subsequent weeks you will learn about some of the most common and distressing symptoms such as anorexia (loss of appetite), dyspnea (shortness of breath), fatigue (weakness), delirium(confusion) and constipation and nausea/vomiting. For each of these symptoms, you will learn about the underlying cause and potential ways to support people and their families to manage the symptoms with simple practical and non-medical approaches as well as a review of medications as appropriate. In addition, you will learn to help people with their emotional response to symptoms and loss of function.You will be able to immediately use these insights, skills, and tools in your work with people living with serious illness. In other courses, you will learn communication skills, whole person assessment, how to ease physical pain and explore ways to ease psycho-social-spiritual distress.
Psychosocial and Spiritual Aspects of Palliative Care
In this course, you’ll learn how serious and life-threatening illnesses often affect emotional and spiritual well-being. Illnesses can increase stress as patients and families learn to live with a “new normal” that may often focus on illness. You’ll learn how to tell when normal sadness (or grief) becomes something more serious and needs to be addressed. People with serious illnesses also have social concerns as their family, friends and community support system becomes stretched, and sometimes fails. We’ll talk about resources and skills you can use to help support patients and families. You’ll learn about advance care planning, that includes shared decision-making, setting goals of care, and writing down plans for care.
Palliative Care Capstone Projects
In the Capstone Course you have the opportunity to put what you have been learning about in the Palliative Care Specialization into practice. Our team has created five activities that directly relate to what you have been learning in the course. You will need to talk with someone you know, perhaps a friend or family member, about their experiences living with serious and life limiting illness. You may want to engage several people as you go through the 5 assignments as they each will have unique experiences. The Five Assignments:
1) Use the Nature of Suffering Evaluation Form to guide your conversation with someone living with serious illness and report and reflect on how this illness is impacting different aspects of their lives.
2) Using SNAP/Self-Awareness skills explore the values of someone close to you and your own values as relate to health, illness and dying.
3) Using the WILDA tool complete a pain assessment with someone living with serious illness.
4) Using the ESAS tool complete a physical symptom assessment with someone living with serious illness.
5) Have a conversation with someone you know about Advance Care Planning. In the assignment you will focus on who would be the person that they would want to speak for them if they could not speak for themselves, often known as the MDPOA.
When you successfully complete all 5 of these assignments and the other course work you will earn the Coursera Specialization Certificate in Palliative Care. More importantly you will be prepared to help others live well with serious and life-limiting disease.
Learners will use
real-world strategies, tools and techniques to assess sources of suffering and
learn communication techniques that support patients living with serious
illness. Authentic patient scenarios are used to allow learners to apply new
knowledge and practice new skills that they can then apply and integrate into
their own clinical settings.