We will trace the history of the hospice movement in the U.K. and its global expansion. We will explore the origins and development of palliative care, compare different cultural experiences and expectations of it, and look at likely future demands. We’ll see how health care participated in creating myths about palliative care, and will critique the media’s role in how we view aging. We will discuss tools and resources that are used to initiate earlier palliative care and planning for end of life. While exploring the challenges associated with conversations about end of life, we will also examine the unprecedented impacts of modern-day medicine and aging baby boomers.
In addition, we will contrast traditional health care approaches and the relatively new concept of death denial. We will see how changes in epidemiology, demography and medical technology have affected trajectories of dying and approaches to death. We will identify and discuss the end-of-life ethical dilemmas that health care teams face—dilemmas that become increasingly complicated as the legal framework changes. And we will end by reflecting on personal experiences and the needs of everyone affected by a death.
To engage with all these issues, we will take a variety of approaches, including lectures, assigned readings, film and video viewing, group discussions and storytelling.
This course will be of interest to health professionals, spiritual advisors, policy-makers, researchers, educators, gerontologists, social workers, alternative medical practitioners, volunteers, caregivers and anyone else seeking a deeper understanding of the increasingly complex field of end of life.
- 80% of people say that, if seriously ill, they would want to talk to their doctor about end-of-life care.
- 25% of doctors know that their patients have advance directives on file.
- 7% of people report actually having had an end-of-life conversation with their doctor.
Statistics from VITAS Healthcare, The Importance of Talking About End-of-Life Care, vitas.com
For certificate students only:
Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”
Textbooks and learning materials
There is required reading for this course.
Required readings for this course will be available online.