Workforce Education

Workforce Education

Key Messages

  • Enrolled nurses and care workers provide most direct care to older people. [1,2]
  • Many of those working in aged care feel unprepared to care for people who are dying. [1-4]
  • Training interventions should focus not only on knowledge but on organisational support for workers to improve workforce capacity and preparedness. [4]
  • Experiential learning may be beneficial in initial vocational training. [2,5,6]



Education is a key part of initial training and preparation, and ongoing professional development of the aged care workforce who will provide care for older Australians approaching the end of their life. This information relates to training and education of medical staff, nurses, careworkers and students.

Evidence Summary

Enrolled nurses and care workers provide most direct care to older people. [1,2] Many have limited training and feel inadequately prepared for their job. [1-4] There is increasing recognition of the importance of ongoing staff training and education and on their effectiveness as interventions that achieve outcomes for staff and for the people for whom they provide care. [1-6] It is important that outcomes of educational interventions are not limited to perception of improved care but are measurable and meaningful. [7] Tools to assess palliative care competency for care workers are available but are limited in their suitability for those with language or literacy problems. [1]

There is a need to better understand how to provide accessible and targeted educational interventions and resources to careworkers in the community. However, effective teaching methods include opportunities for workers to share and exchange new information, and utilise peers and colleagues for support, mentorship and exchange of knowledge. [8,9]

Nursing students also feel unprepared to deal with issues related to death and dying and there are indications that schools of nursing may not be adequately educating nursing students to care for people at the end of life. [3]

Including palliative care in undergraduate education is an important way of providing knowledge, skill, and competencies about palliative care and can improve attitudes toward caring in advanced disease and at the end of life. Experiential learning appears to be valuable. [2,5,6]

Quality Statement

Few reviews included prospective comparative interventions.  Many dealt with analyses of surveys, interviews and workforce reports. The conduct of the reviews was adequate.

Page updated 08 June 2021


  • References

  • About PubMed Search

  1. Karacsony S, Chang E, Johnson A, Good A, Edenborough M. Measuring nursing assistants' knowledge, skills and attitudes in a palliative approach: A literature review. Nurse Educ Today. 2015 Dec;35(12):1232-9. Epub 2015 May 21.
  2. Herber OR, Johnston BM. The role of healthcare support workers in providing palliative and end-of-life care in the community: a systematic literature review. Health Soc Care Community. 2013 May;21(3):225-35. Epub 2012 Sep 13.
  3. Frey RA, Gott M, Neil H. Instruments used to measure the effectiveness of palliative care education initiatives at the undergraduate level: a critical literature review. BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2013 Mar;3(1):114-9. Epub 2012 Dec 1.
  4. Anstey S, Powell T, Coles B, Hale R, Gould D. Education and training to enhance end-of-life care for nursing home staff: a systematic literature review. BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2016 Sep;6(3):353-61. Epub 2016 Jun 21.
  5. Flemming K, Closs SJ, Foy R, Bennett MI. Education in advanced disease. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2012 May;43(5):885-901.
  6. Pulsford D, Jackson G, O'Brien T, Yates S, Duxbury J. Classroom-based and distance learning education and training courses in end-of-life care for health and social care staff: a systematic review. Palliat Med. 2013 Mar;27(3):221-35. Epub 2011 Nov 29.
  7. Friesen L, Andersen E. Outcomes of collaborative and interdisciplinary palliative education for health care assistants: A qualitative metasummary. J Nurs Manag. 2019;27(3):461-81.
  8. Cooper C, Cenko B, Dow B, Rapaport P. A systematic review evaluating the impact of paid home carer training, supervision, and other interventions on the health and well-being of older home care clients. Int Psychogeriatr. 2017 Apr;29(4):595-604. doi: 10.1017/S1041610216002386. Epub 2017 Jan 16. 
  9. Cunningham N, Cowie J, Watchman K, Methven K. Understanding the training and education needs of homecare workers supporting people with dementia and cancer: A systematic review of reviews. Dementia (London). 2020 Nov;19(8):2780-2803. doi: 10.1177/1471301219859781. Epub 2019 Jul 4.

Education, Professional

Formal education and training in preparation for the practice of a profession (Source: MeSh thesaurus).
This concept involves continuous education as well.


 ((workforce[tiab] OR work force[tiab] OR staff[tiab] OR carer*[tiab] OR careworker*[tiab] OR care worker*[tiab] OR health worker*[tiab] OR nurses[tiab] OR nurse[tiab] OR therapist*[tiab] OR allied health[tiab] OR professional*[tiab] OR dermatologist* OR clinician*[tiab] OR dietician*[tiab] OR dietitian*[tiab] OR nutritionist*[tiab] OR physiotherapist*[tiab] OR psychologist*[tiab] OR audiologist*[tiab] OR APNs[tiab] OR RNs[tiab] OR ENs[tiab] OR doctor[tiab] OR doctors[tiab] OR speech pathologist*[tiab] OR social worker*[tiab] OR counsellor*[tiab] OR GP[tiab] OR general practitioner*[tiab] OR family physician*[tiab] OR primary care physician*[tiab] OR student*[tiab] OR resident*[tiab] OR undergrad*[tiab] OR caregivers[mesh] OR allied health personnel[mesh] OR nurses[mesh] OR general practitioners[mesh] OR social workers[mesh]) AND (train*[ti] OR education*[ti] OR teach*[ti] OR workshop*[ti] OR module*[ti] OR curricul*[ti] OR short course*[ti] OR skills[ti] OR upskill*[ti] OR competencies[ti] OR competency[ti] OR lecture*[ti] OR seminar*[ti] OR elearning[ti] OR staff development[ti] OR clinical placement*[ti]))