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8th and 9th of August 2017 


This Professional Development course will support and enhance the skills and knowledge required by health care professionals across a variety of health care settings, to effectively acknowledge and respond to the complex mental health needs and psychological issues of people living with an advanced chronic and terminal illness,  and that of their family and caregivers as they approach the last year of life.

Health care professionals, especially allied health workers and Social Workers, encounter people living with the impacts of advanced chronic and terminal illness or their families and loved ones. Knowing how to screen and assess for psychological distress or mental health issues and then having access to evidence based therapeutic skills and knowledge to respond appropriately and in a timely, patient centered manner can impact positively on the individual’s quality of life and that of their loved ones.

Responding to the complex mental health and psychological needs of people living with an advanced chronic and terminal illness and that of their family and caregivers, requires specialist skills and knowledge. Evidence shows that traditional mental health responses alone are generally not effective at this stage of life and many clinicians indicate that they feel ill equipped to respond in an effective and appropriate way.

This course helps you develop the competency and confidence to:

  • work with people over all life stages, including children, young people and the elderly,  with advanced chronic and terminal illness to develop effective responses to meet their mental health concerns  and issues;
  • Understand the impact disease trajectories have on mental health and therefore understand individual responses and behaviours;
  • Screen and assess psychological and mental health problems; plan appropriate evidence based therapeutic  responses and evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions; and
  • Practice in a collaborative integrative, transdisciplinary environment.

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this course, you will:

  • Appreciate the impact the “treatment gap” has on the lives of people with advanced chronic and terminal illness, and that of their loved ones;
  • Understand the meaning people with advanced chronic and terminal illness ascribe to their symptoms, the psychological issues they face and the impact this has on their quality of life;
  • Be able to demonstrate a level of competency required to plan and facilitate the delivery of mental health interventions that are timely, appropriate and effective, and that address the deeper existential level of the patient’s life and that of their family members and loved ones;
  • Recognize the benefits and challenges of being part of a transdisciplinary team delivering patient-centred person-focused care to the Unit of Care.

Dietary Requirements
On both days of training, LAR will be providing morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, + tea and coffee facilities for all students so please contact us if there’s any dietary requirements you may have.



Target audience:

  • This Professional Development course is designed with the needs of health care professionals currently wok with or wanting to work with individuals living with an advanced chronic or terminal illness or their families and caregivers. The theoretical knowledge is based on Social Work values and theories with its Person In Environment focus.
  • Professionals include – Social Workers including Mental Health Social Workers; Allied Health – Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Pharmacists; Nurses; Doctors; Community Care workers; professionals working in Aged Care, Disabilities or prisons.

Mental Health Criteria

This course meets the Focused Psychological Strategies (FPS) criteria for Accredited Mental Health Social Workers, as defined by Medicare Australia.

The following FPS are included as part of the course and are delivered as they relate to people with an advanced chronic and terminal or life limiting illness, their families and care givers.

  • Psycho-education (including motivational interviewing)
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
    • Behavioural interventions – for chronic illness
    • Exposure techniques, trauma focussed
    • Cognitive interventions, including ACT and Mindfulness
    • Cognitive therapy, including Grief Therapy
  • Narrative Therapy – in the context of illness narratives, Advanced Care Planning (ACP) and Dignity Therapy
  • Interpersonal Therapy – Dignity Therapy and ACP

Details about the FPS Content:

The therapeutic content covers a range of evidence based therapies, when modified or adapted for use with this cohort, can be used effectively and achieve improvement in quality of life and reduction in psychological distress.

The course looks at a range of FPS and identifies how they can be used effectively and interchangeably for clients, addressing such issues as:  adjustment disorder, grief, loss and trauma, stress and anxiety including health anxiety and death anxiety, self management cognitive and behaviour strategies to support living with and coping with the effects of a terminal illness, cognitive approaches incorporating narrative and dignity therapy which whilst not approved at this stage for clients accessing Medicare items, can be incorporated into a holistic approach to mental health care.

Education will describe the common therapies as they relate to this cohort and include case discussion and closed fish bowl role plays. Two case studies will be used primarily throughout the training.

Benefit of this Activity to Social Workers and other Health Care Professionals

This PD course will prepare and up skill a cohort of interested social workers and other health care professionals to have the skills and competencies to screen, assess for psychological distress and mental health issues as well as develop therapeutic care plans and deliver evidence based therapeutic interventions appropriate to the individuals’ stage of illness and prognosis. This activity will also look at addressing the mental health and psychological needs and concerns of family members and care givers.

This activity will compliment the training social workers and other health care professionals undertake to provide competent mental health therapy across a variety of health care settings.

Demonstrate that the activity is based on recognised or evidence informed practice and or theory:

Providing quality, evidence based Palliative & End of Life Care for those with advanced chronic & terminal illnesses, is fast becoming a critical area of health policy & health research. Care providers in allied health, aged care, nursing & medicine confront end-of-life care across all health settings, however much of the education & literature focuses on specialist or aged care settings. This project provides training for evidence-based psychosocial & psychological care for people living with palliative & end-of-life care issues beyond healthcare settings to the larger community.  Much focus is given to the physical needs of these patients due to the fluctuating health status and their psychosocial & mental health needs often go undiagnosed & untreated (Whyte, 2011) despite the issue of mental health in palliative care patients being well documented. For example, O’Connor, White, Kristjanson, Cousins, & Wilkes’ (2010) study showed that 45.8% of cancer patients were possibly depressed, 36.9% were possibly anxious & about 25% had probable combined anxiety & depression. However, responding appropriately to these complex needs requires healthcare professionals to have a unique mix of competencies, knowledge, skills & attitudes, which primary health carers identify they lack (Whyte, 201). These specific skills are not currently addressed in qualifications or competency standards in any of the primary or allied healthcare fields. Much of the palliative care curriculum nationally & internationally focuses on medical & clinical/symptom issues or concerns at the very end of life, while much of the palliative care literature & training focuses on palliation in oncology or managing “difficult conversations” with families & caregivers. Equally, courses offered in schools of social work provide little exposure to this growing & important field of practice; a single (elective) course or lecture on grief, loss, death & dying is generally available in most Australian social work programs, but aren’t core curriculum.

This course aims to bridge this Gap.

Describe briefly the delivery methods utilised, highlighting opportunities for active engagement of your learners (e.g. group discussions, Q&A sessions, exercises etc):

The training programs will be face to face, with  training offered on line in 2017. There are a variety of modes that will be utilised for the delivery of content , depending on the audience, however generally it will be a mix of direct delivery, general group and case discussion and closed fish bowl role plays. As part of the training, there will be surveys participants will have to complete and these will also be discussed in light of the gaps in clinician competencies.

How will we ensure that identified learning objectives are achieved?

Initially baseline skills and competencies of primary health and allied healthcare providers in screening, assessing and providing psychological and psychosocial care will be identified and mapped against Australian and international palliative care standards. Qualitative and quantitative surveys and evaluations – online and paper-based – will be undertaken at key points before, during and after the delivery of the educational courses using action research methodology. These Plan, Do, Study, Act cycles, will influence changes to the content and delivery of the course material.

Additionally interviews will be undertaken with a small number of patients or caregivers/family members who received care and support from healthcare professionals who completed the training. This will provide a means to test the effectiveness and value of the training in improving the way mental health in people living with advanced chronic and terminal illnesses is screened, assessed and therapeutic care provided across the disease trajectory, including into bereavement.

Feedback will be requested from participants in the form of:

  • Evaluation form from the LAR project team relating to the CPD Course material itself – its usefulness, relevance, professionalism, location of the training, and course content
  • participation in the LAR research survey instruments – measuring competence and confidence across time

AASW Endorsed

Endorsement from Professional Bodies
Endorsement has been received from AASW :   Endorsement Reference Number: AASW160407

The AASW considers professional development from a time based system rather than points. Therefore attendees can claim 15 hours of CPD points towards their professional accreditation



Course Curriculum

Day 1
Registrations (8:30am - 9:00am)
Session 1
Welcome and Introductions Details 00:00:00
The Patient Journey Details 00:00:00
The Treatment Gap Details 00:00:00
Psychological Impact of a Diagnosis of An Advanced Chronic and Life Limiting Illness Details 00:00:00
Morning Tea (10:15am - 10:30am)
Session 2
Wicked Problems Details 00:00:00
Mental Health Classifications Details 00:00:00
Using Psychological Screening and Assessment Across The Unit of Care Details 00:00:00
Assessment Tools Details 00:00:00
Case Study Details 00:00:00
Lunch (12:30pm - 1:30pm)
Session 3
Narrative Approaches to Assessment – Double Listening Details 00:00:00
Bio-psycho-social Care Details 00:00:00
Afternoon Tea (3:00pm - 3:15pm)
Session 4
Developing a Provisional Diagnosis Details 00:00:00
The Ethics of Applying a Mental Health ‘Label’ Details 00:00:00
Day 2 (9:00 am start)
Session 5
Welcome and Recap Day One Details 00:00:00
Using Appropriate Therapies: Grief, Trauma, & Loss; Mindfulness Details 00:00:00
Session 6
Using Appropriate Therapies: Narrative and Dignity Therapy in End of Life and Palliative Care, Values and Attachment Theory Details 00:00:00
Lunch (12:25pm - 1:10pm)
Session 7
Applying The Rehabilitative and Strengths Lens Details 00:00:00
Application of Therapies Throughout The Disease Trajectory Details 00:00:00
Using a Strengths and Narrative Approach in Advance Care Planning Details 00:00:00
Afternoon Tea (2:45pm - 3:00pm)
Session 8
Using a Person-Centred, Trans-Disciplinary Approach Details 00:00:00
The Last 400 Days of Life Details 00:00:00
Challenges & Opportunities Details 00:00:00
Close – Survey and Evaluations Details 00:00:00

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Listen, Acknowledge, Respond project is supported by the Commonwealth Department of Health