Community Education in Geriatric Palliative Care

Learning about services for older adults who have chronic or terminal illnesses can be very difficult. Studies show that there is a low use of palliative care services and advance care planning in African American and Latino American communities. There is often a greater use of aggressive measures at the end of life in these communities as well. One reason may be the lack of opportunities to learn about these services. Information is empowering. Knowing concrete facts about options can help patients and families make the right choices for them. The purpose of this project is to improve access to end of life care through education specifically for the minority community.

The program goal is to provide information about palliative care and the importance of advance care planning for older adults. We will do this by partnering with community organizations to develop a community outreach program. The program will train volunteers who can educate their peers so patients and families have the information to help people understand the benefits of palliative care, advance care planning, and hospice services.

We will provide education to the community through community volunteers who will deliver the information to their peers. We are recruting volunteers who have an interest in learning and educating their community about palliative care for older adults. The content of the material will be such that non-medically trained individuals can grasp the information and share their understanding with others. Trainee requirements include:

  • Membership in an organized social club or religious-based organization
  • Written agreement with the organization for participation
  • Commitment to attend two training sessions per year

We will pilot the program with four trainees and will provide these volunteers with two training sessions and presentation materials on each topic. Trainees may select educational materials in Spanish or in English.

Training Session 1

  • Understanding advance directives and advance care planning including Medicare benefits
  • Understanding the hospice benefit

Training Session 2

  • Understanding advance dementia
  • Monitoring for caregiver stress

After the training sessions the trainees will be able to review the material through web-based modules on each of the topics. Computer access will be made available if needed. After the review they will take a post-test to measure comprehension. Trainees must score 90% or higher to pass but may take the test more than once if needed.

To access the class log in to:

Password: Geriatric palliativecare

Once trainees participate in the two training sessions, successfully complete the web-based modules and post test, they will be designated as Geriatric Palliative Community Educators!

They are then ready to present one program topic to their chosen organization. I will attend their first presentation to provide assistance and monitor content.

Trainers will be able to continue to educate members of their community and recruit other volunteers. The trainer will be certified for two years and will be required to complete a brief online refresher training yearly. At the end of the 2nd year, trainers will attend the training sessions again to maintain proficiency.

Sponsored by:

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging
Department of Geriatrics Palliative Care Program