End-of-life nursing care has evolved worldwide. Here's how ...

March 17, 2015 | by City of Hope

Betty Ferrel Betty Ferrell, director and professor of nursing research and education at City of Hope, is the principal investigator of ELNEC, a palliative-care education program that has helped end-of-life care evolve worldwide.

Nurses and other medical professionals have come to understand that it's not enough just to fight disease. They also must provide pain relief, symptom control, and an unrelenting commitment to improve patients' quality of life — especially at the end of life. Not too long ago, this was a relatively novel concept.

That's why ELNEC matters.

ELNEC is the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium, pioneered by City of Hope in partnership with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. It was created in 2000 after groundbreaking research at both institutions pointed to a serious lack of comprehensive, rigorous, systematic and high-quality, end-of-life care education.

The training raises awareness of patients' end-of-life needs, even as it teaches the specialized nursing skills required when patients' goals shift from a cure to ensuring that their remaining days hold as much meaning as possible for themselves and their families.

“Nurses want to provide excellent care to seriously ill patients and those at the end of life, but they've had little preparation in schools of nursing on this topic,” said Rose Virani, R.N., M.H.A., who oversees ELNEC and who is a senior research specialist in the Division of Nursing Research and Education at City of Hope. “ELNEC training helps nurses and physicians improve the quality of care they provide across the spectrum on physical care, but also psychosocial and spiritual care.”

Fifteen years after ELNEC's inception, the program has succeeded far beyond expectations, helping nurses around the world care for patients — both in body and mind. More than 19,000 nursing educators have received the training, in turn passing their newly acquired knowledge to 500,000 nurses treating millions of patients. Graduates can be found in all 50 states and in 85 countries.

The ELNEC way is rapidly becoming the professional standard. Consortium content is now a regular part of nursing curricula, regional training sessions, national and international conferences and community partnership events.

“It has been remarkable to work with educators around the world and see them implement and disseminate ELNEC resources,” said Betty Ferrell, Ph.D., R.N., ELNEC principal investigator and professor and director of the Division of Nursing Research and Education at City of Hope.

This year, the program's “Train the Trainer” courses will reach even more professionals across the U.S. and overseas, including in Albania, China and Kenya. The training is also available online.

“Our work,” said Virani, “has targeted countries with few resources and high mortality from cancer, TB, AIDS, malaria and other illnesses. We have seen the benefits around the world of ELNEC training.”

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