Background: There is a global need to expand palliative care services to reach the increasing number requiring end of life care. In developing countries where the incidences of cancer are rising there is an urgent need to develop the palliative care workforce. This paper reports on a UK Department for international development (DFID) initiative funded through the Tropical Health Education Trust (THET) where palliative care staff, both clinical and academic, volunteered to help to develop, support and deliver a degree in palliative care in sub-Saharan Africa. The objective of the study was to explore the personal impact on the health care professionals of being part of this initiative. Methods: An evaluation approach using a confidential electronic survey containing quantitative and qualitative questions was distributed to all 17 volunteers on the programme, three months after completion of the first cohort. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and content thematic analysis. Ethical review deemed the study to be service evaluation. Results: 82% (14) responded and several themes emerged from the data including the positive impact on teaching and educational skills; clinical practice and finally personal development. Using a score of 1-10 (1-no impact, 10 maximum impact) 'Lifestyle choices - life work balance' (rating 7.83) had the most impact. Conclusions: This approach to supporting the development of palliative care in Sub-Saharan Africa through skill sharing in supporting the delivery of a degree programme in palliative care was successful in terms of delivery of the degree programme, material development and mentorship of local staff. Additionally, this study shows it provided a range of positive impacts on the volunteer health care professionals from the UK. Professional impacts including increased management skills, and being better prepared to undertake a senior role. However it is the personal impact including lifestyle choices which the volunteers reported as the highest impact. Interestingly, several of the faculty have joined other volunteer programmes to continue to support the international development of palliative care.
- End of life
- Palliative care