Claire Quinn, Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, NUI Galway.
Mar 13 2017 Posted: 09:24 GMT

New Masters/Postgraduate Degree course will ensure the provision of national specialised nurses who have the skills to care for children and adolescents with complex, life-limiting and terminal conditions


NUI Galway in collaboration with UCD, are the first in Ireland to respond to the needs of Health Services by providing training for specialist nursing care for children and adolescents with complex, life-limiting and terminal conditions.

The dedicated Masters/Postgraduate Degree in Health Sciences at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, specialising in children’s palliative and complex care, aims to equip nurses with the necessary skills for the increasing numbers of children and adolescents who have complex, life-limiting or terminal conditions and require care in a variety of settings (hospital or community), according to child and family preference. Applications for the second intake of this NUI Galway programme are being accepted this Spring 2017.

The School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway has just been recognised for its work and nominated in the Top 100 Globally (15th in Europe) for the subject nursing in the 2017 QS World University Subject Rankings.

Palliative and complex care for children differs from care for adults in that many children requiring this type of care have life-limiting conditions, as opposed to advanced terminal conditions. Children may survive many years with these complex conditions. The needs of these children differ from the needs of adults and many live with severe disability and require constant care.

The paediatric palliative care nurse for children with complex care requirements plays a key role as a member of the team. These nurses require a comprehensive understanding of the experience of palliative and complex care from neonates to adolescents, and their families. In order to meet the needs of a variety of children requiring this care, the new programme will provide nurses with the broad skills necessary to meet the needs of children across a wide variety of settings.

Claire Quinn, Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, NUI Galway, said: “As researchers working in this emerging new specialty we recently estimated that there were at least 3,840 children in Ireland living with complex life-limiting conditions and this number is increasing yearly due to medical advances. Children who have complex care requirements or reach the end-of-life deserve the very highest standard of care delivered in a place of their choosing and provided by expert paediatric palliative care nurses. Unfortunately, it is acknowledged that in Ireland today there is an absence of nursing staff that can demonstrate the very special skills to work in this demanding field of nursing practice.”

With the publication of the Department of Health’s national policy ‘Palliative Care for Children with Life-limiting Conditions’, the recent Palliative Care Competence Framework, various international and national reports and guidelines on palliative care provision such as the World Health Organisation’s ‘The Global Burden of Disease’, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines, the Irish Advisory Committee on Palliative Care and the Irish Hospice Foundation, all support the rationale to provide a programme which is evidence-based and encompasses the growing demands of children and adolescents who require palliative and complex care.

Ms Orla Keegan, Head of Education, Research and Bereavement Services at the Irish Hospice Foundation, says: “Access to education is vital to ensure that nurses helping children with the most complex of needs have the competence and skill required to do so. For the past 10 years the Irish Hospice Foundation has financially supported children’s palliative care training at basic and intermediate level. We have continually advocated the need for an advanced postgraduate education programme to complete the learning opportunities for palliative care nurses and are delighted with this new MSc programme from NUI Galway and UCD. Health services will welcome this initiative which clears the way for advanced nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists to provide local expertise in the care of children with palliative care needs.”

The new programme was also praised by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris at the launch of the national policy evaluation report, ‘Evaluation of the Children’s Palliative Care Programme’. Minster Harris commented: “I want to acknowledge the commencement of the first postgraduate course in children with palliative and complex care needs in NUI Galway, and to acknowledge the importance of that programme in ensuring that we continue to develop health care professionals with the specialism that is required in this area. It’s very encouraging to see this up and running.”

For applications and further information on the NUI Galway Masters/Postgraduate Degree in Health Sciences visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/nursing-midwifery  

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