In an exciting new phase in the development and roll out of our education programme, generously funded by the Discovery Fund, PatchSA was excited to travel to the beautiful coastal town of Knysna to pilot our newly developed training materials on Key Elements of Children’s Palliative Care.

Hosted by Knysna Sedgefield Hospice, course facilitators, Tracy Rawlins (PatchSA Training Coordinator) and Sue Boucher (Communication and Training Consultant to PatchSA) presented the training to a multi-disciplinary group of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, a psychologist, counsellors and a pastoral care counsellor. The group of western Cape participants came from Drakenstein Hospice, Plett Hospice, Bethesda and Knysna Sedgefield Hospice. Cancercare George and FAMSA were also represented.

In a busy week of learning, sharing, wonderful camaraderie, networking, compassionate support of one another and some light relief from the difficult topics covered, the programme included:

  • An introduction to children’s palliative care
  • Teamwork and managing conflict
  • Self care
  • Effective communication in chidlren’s palliative care
  • Difficult conversations and breaking bad news
  • Talking to children of different ages
  • Holistic assessment and care planning
  • Psychosocial assessment and care
  • The role of play and education in children’s palliative care
  • Cultural understanding and spiritual care
  • Providing care and support for the family
  • Pain Assessment and pain management
  • Assessment and management of symptoms other than pain
  • End-of-life care
  • Loss, grief and bereavement

The busy programme, that ran from 08:30 until 16:00 each day, included regular spots for self-care activities as well as energisers and opportunities to discuss case studies and questions in small groups. The course modules are all based on the Bettercare book Palliative Care for Children – A guide for improving the quality of life of patients and their families that a dedicated team of writers from PatchSA have written. This book will be available to order or to read online on the Bettercare website within the next two weeks.

Below are a just a few of the many photos taken during the week’s training: 















Being a pilot training course, it was important to ask participants to evaluate every day of training in some detail. They were also asked to answer a daily set of 14 multiple choice questions both at the beginning and end of each day in order to monitor the effectiveness of the training. The feedback from participants was extremely helpful, and mostly positive and encouraging. Comments included the following:

“The strengths of the course included the inter-activeness, the visual aspect, the games and the ease that was generated in terms of asking questions and sharing knowledge from different professions.”

“It was both interactive and informative, despite the time constraints.”

“Thank you indeed for holding our emotions in such a sensitive way while sharing so much knowledge around a tricky subject.”

On Friday 6 March all participants were awarded a Certificate of Attendance and sincerely thanked for their contribution to this pilot course. PatchSA Training Coordinator Tracy Rawlins had this to say, “This pilot course has been extremely beneficial, not only for the participants, but also for PatchSA. It has helped us to see the inherent value in the modules we offer as well as where we can improve on the implementation of our training.”

She added, “we could not have asked for a better group of participants to do the very first PatchSA five day course. They were all involved, eager to learn and participate and their contribution towards the final product is invaluable. We are most grateful to each one of them, to Medical Director Dr Janet Stanford, and to Knysna Sedgefield Hospice for giving us this amazing opportunity.”

Should you wish to learn more about PatchSA training, costs and availability, please go to the relevant page on our website or contact Tracy Rawlins at