Online course in Health & Psychology

End of Life Care: Challenges and Innovation

Explore dying and palliative care practice around the world and evaluate new trends and ideas surrounding end of life care issues.

  • Duration 3 weeks
  • Weekly study 4 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $54 Find out more

Learn about new directions and the latest thinking on end of life care.

Death itself may be certain, but how we die involves many challenges. On this course, you’ll explore the care we receive when dying, cultural variations and beliefs around what makes a good death, and the planning and timing of death.

With increasingly ageing populations, we are living longer but dying more slowly. New ideas around end of life care are therefore emerging in different contexts. You will discover the patterns and global trends taking place in palliative care, and explore these new approaches from a social science and humanities perspective.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 11 secondsSPEAKER: It is often said that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. Death itself may be certain. But how and where we die and the meanings we attach to dying have many dimensions. This course explores some of the challenges of contemporary end of life care. You'll have a chance to study the different forms of care people receive before they die, how we plan and prepare for death, and how culture and values shape our experiences.

Skip to 0 minutes and 37 secondsMARIAN KRAWCZYK: We'll start by asking, what is end of life and dying? And how do we collectively give meaning to contemporary dying? We will then examine different dying trajectories and characteristics that shape our understanding of good and bad dying, explore the special role of hospitals in end of life care, and why it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine if and when someone is sick enough to die.

Skip to 1 minute and 0 secondsDAVID CLARK: We'll study how communities around the world are creating new ways to think about death and dying and caring for people with chronic and terminal illnesses. From Kerala in India to Clydebank in Scotland, we'll examine innovative approaches to generate compassion and care in the community. And we'll be taking a look at the fast-growing worldwide interest in the movement known as death cafe.

Skip to 1 minute and 22 secondsNAOMI RICHARDS: Many people want to take direct control over how they die. We'll explore how assisted dying is increasingly being proposed and legislated for as an option that people want to have at the end of life. We'll also examine the phenomenon known as rational suicide, specifically for older people, and take a look at how modern individuals seek to curate their dying process and the rituals that follow it.

Skip to 1 minute and 45 secondsSPEAKER: So please join us for this free online course and investigate these challenging issues. You'll have opportunities to share your ideas and reflections and to learn from others. And you'll discover some innovative approaches to important and complex problems. We look forward to meeting you and to working with you on this one subject that affects absolutely every one of us.

What topics will you cover?

  • Defining dying and end of life

  • ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ dying

  • Hospital care at the end of life

  • How communities around the world are creating new ways to deliver palliative care for people with chronic and terminal illnesses – the example of Kerala, in India

  • How ‘compassionate communities’ are forming to work alongside service providers to meet the challenges of loneliness, isolation and the experience of ‘social death’ – the example of Clydebank, in Scotland.

  • Examining the fast growing world-wide interest in the movement known as ‘Death Café’.

  • Many people want to take direct control over how they die. Where is assisted dying legal and what are its implications – for the meaning of death, the practice of palliative care and the ‘right to choose’?

  • Rational suicide – an emerging response to the desire for direct control over the manner of one’s death, especially among older people.

  • How modern individuals seek to ‘curate’ their dying process and the rituals that follow it.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Remembering key elements and discussions in the end of life care challenges that are being faced around the world, including important metrics
  • Understanding the implications of these issues, debates and metrics for policy making, service organisation, clinical practice and public involvement
  • Applying these understandings to specific situations with which learners will be presented in the course materials – through specific micro-case studies – and sharing their own experiences and ideas in discussion with others
  • Analysing current debates on end of life care in ways which lead to comparisons between different settings
  • Evaluating and make critical judgements based on research evidence about existing and new approaches to end of life care and potential solutions to problems identified
  • Creating new scenarios for future end of life care based on an analysis of needs, conflicting debates, best practice and the potential for innovation

Who is the course for?

This course is for people interested in or engaged in matters relating to death, dying, bereavement, palliative and end of life care.

This course will be of special interest to those working in healthcare, including physicians, nurses, social workers, and other health and social care professionals.

The course will also appeal to practitioners, students, researches, volunteers and policymakers in end of life care, as well as social activists and those working in artistic and cultural media who are working on end of life issues.

It is ideal for anybody considering taking The University of Glasgow’s MSc End of Life Studies

Who will you learn with?

David Clark

David Clark

I am a Professor of Medical Sociology working with the End of Life Studies Group at the University of Glasgow. My special interests are in the history and development of hospice and palliative care.

Marian Krawczyk

Marian Krawczyk

I am a Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Fellow with the End of Life Studies Group at the University of Glasgow. I am a medical anthropologist who is interested in interdisciplinary research on the end of life.

Naomi Richards

Naomi Richards

I am Lecturer in Social Sciences and member of the Glasgow End of Life Studies Group. I am a social and visual anthropologist and am interested in cultural aspects of ageing and dying.

Who developed the course?

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. It is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities.

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