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Consortium to expand vets' palliative care
The Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded the City of Hope, a biomedical research, treatment and educational institution located just outside of Los Angeles, a three-year contract to educate nurses on how to provide better palliative care for veterans with life-threatening illnesses.
This work will be conducted through the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC), a national nursing education initiative administered by the City of Hope and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).
"It is important that veterans receive care in all settings including community hospitals, academic centers, cancer hospitals, home care, and hospices, since only 4% of veterans die in VA facilities," said Betty Ferrell, PhD, RN, FAAN, FPCN, principal investigator for the ELNEC For Veterans project and professor, nursing research and education at City of Hope. "The ELNEC For Veterans project hopes to also reach nurses in these community settings. It is vital that nursing faculty and students have an understanding of the unique needs of veterans and their families toward the end of their lives. No other health care provider spends more time with these veterans and their families than the nurse."
More than 54,000 American veterans, mostly from World War II and Korea, die each month, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Hospice and Palliative Care Initiative (VAHPC) is trying to improve hospice and palliative care for them. Given that the number of Vietnam-era veterans over age 65 will continue to grow through 2034, so too will the need for hospice and palliative care in the VA system.
During the three years of the ELNEC For Veterans project, 600 nurse educators will enroll in national "train-the-trainer" courses. The expertise gained there is aimed to improve the quality of palliative care for thousands of veterans in 153 Department of Veterans' Affairs Medical Centers across the United States.
Kathleen Potempa, PhD, RN, FAAN, president of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), said, "Educating nurses to provide high quality care to veterans begins with enhancing the expertise of nurse educators on how to best meet the health care needs of this distinct patient population. AACN welcomes this opportunity to collaborate with our colleagues at the City of Hope and the VA to administer this critical faculty development initiative, which will improve palliative care services for America's veterans and their families."
ELNEC was developed in 2000 after extensive research documented that most nurses did not receive adequate end-of-life care preparation during their basic education. Initially funded by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant, ELNEC began as part of a national curriculum in nursing schools to improve end-of-life care. Within a decade, this train-the-trainer concept has grown exponentially. More than 11,000 nurses representing all 50 states and 65 countries have received ELNEC training which they share with colleagues in educational and clinical settings. In addition, trainers have traveled across six continents to instruct thousands of nurses and caregivers. ELNEC has been translated into four languages: Russian, Spanish, Korean, and Japanese. ELNEC also offers more specialized curricula for nurses working in critical care, pediatric, geriatric, and now, VA settings.
For more information on the ELNEC For Veterans project, go to: www.aacn.nche.edu/ELNEC.