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Alberta Palliative Care Competencies and Education Project is seeking healthcare providers

August 23, 2023
Ten pharmacists are needed to review the new Alberta Interprofessional Palliative Care Competency Framework.

As a pharmacy professional, have you assessed your knowledge, skills, attitudes, and judgment toward palliative care?

Palliative care competency frameworks

For some pharmacy professionals, their approach to palliative care is a daily consideration. Vincent Ha, a pharmacist on the ambulatory palliative team at the Cross Cancer Institute, focuses on outpatient care alongside a team of palliative care physicians and nurses and other related healthcare professionals. Serena Rix, a pharmacist in the palliative care unit at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital Pharmacy, focuses on longer-term inpatient care, working as part of a team to support palliative patients’ physical, emotional, and psycho-social well-being.

Due to their unique expertise, the Alberta Palliative Care Competencies and Education Project appointed Serena and Vincent to the Alberta Pharmacists’ Palliative Care Competency Working Group in 2019. This group developed the Alberta Pharmacists’ Palliative Care Competency Framework. This framework, published in 2020, is one of 14 discipline-specific competency frameworks, designed to enable healthcare providers to engage in a self-assessment of their knowledge, skills, behaviours, and attitudes toward palliative care.

Serena said, upon learning about the objective of helping pharmacy teams better support palliative patients, she was ready to contribute to the efforts of the working group.

“I am passionate about contributing to an increased understanding and awareness of palliative care because in many areas of healthcare, practitioners may not be equipped to treat palliative patients,” she said. “Any opportunity to increase awareness and educate pharmacy professionals in this area is important, and the efforts of the working committee were a good start.”

Vincent was similarly eager to help pharmacy teams improve their understanding and skills.

“Palliative care is often a scary topic, but pharmacy teams can have a meaningful impact in this area of care,” he said. “When I joined the working group, I approached it with the questions of how we, as pharmacy professionals, can improve ourselves and our practices and how we can do better for our patients.”

These self-directed tools are designed to identify competencies that may require further education and training to help all healthcare professionals provide patients and their families the best care possible.

Interprofessional palliative care

Most recently, the Palliative Care Competency Working Group members who developed the competency frameworks for specific healthcare disciplines, including Serena and Vincent, reconvened for phase two of the project to establish the Alberta Interprofessional Palliative Care Competency (IPC) Framework. This document was developed using themes identified across the discipline-specific frameworks to support consistent standards of interprofessional practice in palliative care.

Next steps: validation of Alberta IPC Competency Framework

Now, the Alberta Palliative Care Competencies and Education Project is seeking more pharmacists to contribute to the next phase of this project—validating the newly-developed Alberta IPC Competency Framework. This validation process will determine if the framework is reflective of current practices and will help shape future versions of the framework.

The project is seeking to recruit a diverse group of ten pharmacists across urban and rural care settings involved in different areas of care (e.g., emergency, urgent, acute, primary, community, long-term care, hospice).

The exercise will involve a three-round survey process between September and December 2023. Each survey will take approximately one hour, totaling a three-hour time commitment over six to eight weeks. Participants will be given a two-week period to complete each survey round. All participation will be anonymous and completed asynchronously online using an internet-based survey platform (Welphi).

The project aims to recruit participants by the end of August 2023. If you are interested in participating, email the Alberta Palliative Care Competencies and Education Project with the following information:

  • your profession, and
  • your primary practice setting(s).

Questions and applications can be sent to