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Free Palliative Care Education In Ghana Provided By FutureLearn

FutureLearn, a leading UK career-based online learning platform, partners with Lancaster University to provide free access to palliative care education for staff at SDA Hospital Asamang, via palliative care charity COMPASS Ghana.

Staff at COMPASS-Ghana with their FutureLearn certificates. Photograph credit - Compass-Ghana

“What we have witnessed”, states Frederick Frimpong, “is that palliative care is not well understood in Ghana.”

Frederick is a Pharmacy Technician at SDA Hospital Asamang, working closely with COMPASS Ghana, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) with the mission of reducing suffering and hardship in resource-poor communities, by unlocking access to quality end-of-life care in Ghana and the wider sub-Saharan region.

“Dying in pain is what we have been witnessing at my hospital”, he continues, “and we need to have much more knowledge on how to relieve pain before dying.”

Palliative care can be immensely challenging, and remains heavily stigmatised. Nurse Gloria Opoku highlights difficulties when “a patient with CVA [cerebrovascular accident, often known as a stroke] and liver condition refuses to accept palliative care, with the mentality of seeing his or her nakedness”.

Nurse Yaa Piesie Debra has faced similar challenges: “To my best of knowledge, there is no policy on palliative care in Ghana. There aren’t enough facilities that render that care. There is no or little knowledge about palliative care”

The FutureLearn and Lancaster University course Dying Well: The Role of Palliative Care and Sedation in End of Life Care aims to teach best practices for managing difficult end of life symptoms. With this knowledge, learners are able to improve care practices, either as a health and social care professional or a family caregiver.

FutureLearn and Lancaster University, via the FutureLearn for Good initiative, have provided this course completely free of charge to the staff at SDA Hospital Asamang, via COMPASS-Ghana. 

Ian Howell, Managing Director at FutureLearn, said: “Our mission to transform access to education remains at the heart of everything we do.

We are proud to play a small role in widening access to palliative care education in Ghana, and hope that this initiative has equipped the healthcare staff with the crucial skills and knowledge needed to provide quality end of life care.” 

Dr Nancy Preston, Professor of Palliative Care at the International Observatory on End of Life Care at Lancaster University, said: “Palliative care is only just beginning in many countries across the world but they lack access to free, accessible training.  Education on good practice in palliative care is crucial to develop these services and it has been amazing to support the learning in Ghana”

Upon completion of the course, Frederick told FutureLearn “It has helped me understand that dying well is an option in treatment, and I can at least help give relief of pains and agitation before dying.”

Photograph credit – Compass-Ghana

“It had a lot of impact”, said Yaa, “this course will help me render quality care to my clients. I have gained confidence in the discharge of my duties”. 

FutureLearn will continue to work towards breaking down barriers to education through our FutureLearn for Good initiatives.

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