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Key Principles of Palliative Care

Learn about the fundamentals of palliative care and implement your knowledge and skills to improve the lives of your patients.

1,178 enrolled on this course

Palliative care - medical practitioner holding hands of patient

Key Principles of Palliative Care

1,178 enrolled on this course

  • 3 weeks

  • 4 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

Find out more about how to join this course

Discover the global need for palliative care and trained caregivers

Palliative care is a form of medical care for those suffering from serious illnesses. This specialised medical care is essential for hundreds of thousands of patients all over the globe.

This three-week course from the University of the West Indies will provide you with a comprehensive overview of palliative care to help you provide attentive and holistic care for your patients.

Learn to recognise and treat symptoms with compassionate pain management

Care for serious illness is concentrated on managing the symptoms experienced by patients. You’ll learn to identify common symptoms of nausea, respiratory difficulty, and fatigue to assess and treat them accordingly.

With the skills you develop on this course, you’ll be equipped to provide your patients with relief from their pain and the burden of long-term illness.

Develop your communication skills to manage conversations about grief and loss

Grief and loss are unfortunate and sad realities of life-threatening illnesses. Many people, despite knowledge of their situation, struggle deeply with acknowledging matters of mortality.

With training from the healthcare specialists at the University of the West Indies, you’ll develop tactful communication skills and language to handle difficult conversations and assist your patients and their families with their coping process.

Improve the quality of life of your patients and their families

One of the outcomes of serious illness is its effect on mental health. With the expertise of the educators on this course, you’ll be equipped with the skills you need to ease not only physical pain but the emotional symptoms associated with it.

Once you have completed this course, you’ll be empowered to improve the quality of life of your patients and their loved ones.


  • Week 1

    Understanding Palliative Care

    • Welcome!

      We are delighted that you have decided to learn more about palliative care! Watch this video to meet the course authors/ educators and to receive an overview of the 3 week learning experience planned for you.

    • Let's get started!

      Take this short poll (1 question) to help you reflect on your current understanding of palliative care.

    • Key Features of Palliative Care

      Participants will be introduced to core concepts in palliative care and will work collaboratively to formulate definitions and a collective understanding of this form of health care.

    • The Global Need for Palliative Care

      This section outlines the need for palliative care globally. It highlights the extent of unmet pain and suffering that exists, and the urgent need to provide this form of care.

    • Benefits of Palliative Care

      Persons who receive palliative care may experience social, emotional, and physical benefits (this section summarises some of these)

    • Let's review

      This video by Dr Greaves summarizes the content of the week and is an excellent quick reference resource for reinforcing key concepts covered during the week.

  • Week 2

    Managing Symptoms

    • The importance of symptom management in palliative care

      This week focuses on the commonest symptoms patients with palliative care needs experience. These include pain, nausea and vomiting and dyspnoea. The expert management of these symptoms improve patients' quality of life immensely.

    • Pain

      A common symptom patients with palliative care needs experience is pain. We are going to explore this symptom in more detail.

    • Nausea and Vomiting

      Nausea and vomiting are other distressing symptoms, patients with palliative care needs experience. We explore these symptoms in more detail.

    • Dyspnoea

      This section is a taster into understanding dyspnoea in the palliative care population. We look at the definition, causes and management of shortness of breath in the context of palliative care.

    • Evaluating Week 2

      Assessment of the key concepts of managing symptoms in palliative care.

  • Week 3

    Necessary and Meaningful Conversations

    • Communication

      During this week we will work together to focus on understanding the fundamentals of good communication including, how to listen actively and the art of silence.

    • Silence and Tender conversations

      During the next steps we will discover how to conduct tender conversation including using silence.

    • Course Reflections

      In this final step we will pause and reflect on what we learned in this course and how we can improve our service to those requiring palliative care.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

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

  • Justify the need for palliative care globally
  • Assess the symptoms of pain, nausea and vomiting and dyspnea in a palliative care context
  • Outline the scope of palliative care
  • Identify their role as palliative care advocates in their own context
  • Apply basic therapeutic communication skills to create safe communication environments for palliative care patients
  • Describe the role of silence in conversations

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for general and specialised healthcare professionals and informal caregivers involved or interested in providing care to loved ones with life-threatening illnesses.

It can also be used to grow palliative care human resources and elderly caretaking training.

Who will you learn with?

Natalie Greaves is a palliative care provider, advocate, and educator, based at the University of the West Indies in Barbados. https://www.cavehill.uwi.edu/fms/staff/academic/dr-natalie-s-greaves.aspx

Hi there!
My name is Sandhya Maharaj and I am a physician with a special interest in Palliative Care. I am an advocate for Palliative Care training and education.

Dr. Sandeep Maharaj BSc. MBA DBA
Associate Dean, Distance Education, Planning, Projects Faculty of Medical Sciences UWI
Lecturer Pharmacy Administration
Global Outreach Fellow Planetary Health Alliance

Promoted by

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Who developed the course?

The University of the West Indies

The University of the West Indies (The UWI) is the Caribbean’s premier, higher education institution. One of only two regional universities in the world, it comprises five campuses across the English-speaking Caribbean and 10 global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. The UWI stands among the top 1.5% of universities globally, following Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2022.

  • Established

  • Location

    The West Indies

In collaboration with

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$109/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 5 Jul 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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