Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLPRAC 724 - Child and Adolescent Palliative Care

15 Points

Semester 2


An examination of specific palliative care issues related to the care of children, adolescents, and their families.

Programme and course advice

This course is multidisciplinary in approach and suitable for students eligible for postgraduate study. Health professionals who have fulfilled the admission requirements for postgraduate study are able to enrol in this course. Doctors enrolling in the Health Science schedule are required to have a current registration with the Medical Council of New Zealand.

Postgraduate nursing students who wish to enrol in a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Science are advised to contact the School of Nursing for guidance on a recommended pathway and core courses that need to be completed.

Other courses that may be of interest are POPLHLTH 746, POPLPRAC 722, POPLPRAC 723 and POPLPRAC 720 for health professionals studying in the Palliative Care specialisation.

Goals of the course

Palliative Care for children and young people with life-limiting conditions is an active and total approach to care, embracing physical, emotional, social and spiritual elements. It focuses on enhancement of quality of life for the child and support for the family and includes the management of distressing symptoms, provision of respite and care through death and bereavement (ACT, 2004).

Quality treatment and consultation provided by health professionals is a focus of education and this course aims to assist students in the course to develop the knowledge and skills to enable them to provide care that is appropriate for their patients and families, of a high quality and the result of consultation and interdisciplinary teamwork.


It aims to enhance the knowledge base of students from a multidisciplinary background of practice within child and adolescent palliative care. It encompasses the medical, psychosocial and spiritual aspects of care and provides a discussion forum that enables learning through reflection and reflexive practice.

Content outline

Philosophy of Child and Adolescent Palliative Care, theories of development stages and how they relate to illness, forms of communication, spirituality and unique needs, Ethical challenges, systems approach to caring for children and adolescents, Families and dynamics, grief and bereavement, cultural challenges, vicarious trauma and self care for health professionals, childhood cancers and other life-limiting disorders, assessment and management of symptoms.

Learning outcomes

At the completion of the course the student will have the knowledge to:

  • Acquire knowledge related to child and adolescent development, their spirituality and the impact of life- limiting illness on their being
  • Demonstrate in discussion an awareness of the philosophy of child and adolescent palliative carewhilst integrating knowledge of ethical theories and forms of communication into family centredcare
  • Articulate the importance of ‘family’ and the relationship dynamics with health professionals engagedin caring for a child/adolescent in palliative care
  • Demonstrate in discussion and written work an awareness of self as bearer of culture and personal experience of illness, death and loss and the use of this in establishing safe practice boundariesand observing self-care
  • Articulate in practice and written work an understanding of holistic care that encompasses the psychosocial, physical and spiritual dimensions of children/adolescents and their families in life-limiting illness and bereavement
  • Develop a personal body of knowledge on life-limiting illnesses in children and adolescents and discuss the associated assessment and management of presenting symptoms, whilst establishing familiarity around accessing literature

Teaching and assessment

This course is delivered in distance mode and includes one 3-day seminar in Auckland. Course details and information including access to digitised readings and assessments are online and will be made accessible through Canvas at the beginning of the semester. Broadband internet connection is recommended for easy access to online resources and assessments. Flash Player can be downloaded free to enable access to the programme. The teaching team will include members of the multidisciplinary palliative care team at Starship Children’s Hospital.

This course has one 3-day seminar held at Grafton Campus. Please see your timetable on SSO for the room details.

The course is 100% internally assessed with two assignments 40% each and 20% for Canvas discussion. Assignments will be created around the six learning outcomes and offer the student a choice of two topics for further in-depth exploration and reflection. Each topic chosen for an assignment will be worth 40% and the first due to be submitted mid-semester, while the second will be submitted at the end of the coursework. Canvas case based interaction will be part of the assessments and worth 20% of total assessment. The minimum requirement for passing the course will be 50% of the total assessment mark and attendance at the seminar. All assessments will be submitted in Canvas which is linked to Turnitin for similarity screening.

Study resources will be supplied on Canvas and will include recommended websites and recommended texts. Recorded lectures, linked material from websites and handouts will be a feature of the course. Canvas interacting e- based discussions for assessment and self-directed learning will also be part of the coursework and assessment. A three day seminar will initiate and set the scene for course work, whilst also enabling valuable discussion on topics not suitable for e-discussion and recorded presentation.

Course coordinator

Course administrator