S'pore medical staff lack training on hospice palliative care

PHOTO: S'pore medical staff lack training on hospice palliative care

SINGAPORE - Three in four doctors (74 per cent) and almost half of nurses (46 per cent) here believe that medical professionals do not know enough about hospice palliative care, which is caring for patients in the last stage of their lives, a survey has shown.

Among those with frequent contact with terminally ill patients, about half - 44 per cent of doctors and 59 per cent of nurses - said they are familiar with hospice palliative care.

A significant minority also believe Singapore does not have enough staff trained in such care, and that there is a shortage of hospice facilities and beds to take care of such patients.

"This suggests a gap in the knowledge needed to support patients in end-of-life matters," philanthropic group Lien Foundation, which commissioned the study, said on Wednesday.

One possible reason could be the lack of education in palliative care.

According to the survey, 62 per cent of doctors and 38 per cent of nurses said basic medical or nursing education is not enough to prepare them to support patients with life-threatening illnesses.

The survey was conducted between February and April, and was the second in a series. The first survey's results were issued in April and looked at the public's thoughts on the issue.

SUGGESTIONS

The report suggested enhancing basic medical and nursing education as well as continuing professional training to increase the skills and knowledge of hospice palliative care of doctors and nurses.

It also recommended equipping doctors and nurses with the skills of how to talk about death and dying with their patients.

Lastly, the report suggested incorporating palliative care principles in all health-care settings, and fostering an environment that supports better end-of-life care.


This article was first published on June 19, 2014.
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