November 4, 2011 | by City of Hope Staff
Just as every life begins, every life ends. But when City of Hope nursing researchers in the late 1990s looked at the textbooks most often used in the nation’s nursing schools, they found that only 2 percent of all the content dealt with helping patients through their last months and days. It’s no wonder that studies showed that nurses nationwide felt unprepared to provide high-quality palliative care.
Palliative care strives to improve the quality of life for patients and their families by helping them manage symptoms and cope with the stress of illness. It’s so critical that the City of Hope researchers teamed up with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to create a training program that gives nurses skills and knowledge so they can take care of seriously ill patients with confidence. So the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) project was born.
A decade after it started, ELNEC has touched more than 13,000 nurses and improved palliative care throughout the world, adapting its training to groups ranging from aging adults to military veterans. A new $535,000 grant from the California Health Care Foundation extends the influence even further, improving palliative care in California’s 16 public hospitals by funding palliative care education for nurses at those facilities.
The education is grounded in the needs of patients in today’s real world. The curriculum will address special issues within the public hospital setting, for example, such as an increase of disadvantaged patients who may have delayed treatment and have more advanced disease because they lack insurance.