Geriatric Education Utilizing a Palliative Care Framework

As a result of medical advancements in treating illness, older adults are living longer. However, they now experiencing the unintended consequences in the form of greater burdens on quality of life such as loss of function and multiple progressive chronic diseases, including chronic pain. This is causing them to become increasingly dependent on family and friends for support.

Health care providers must be prepared to meet the unique needs of an older population. To address this issue GW developed the Geriatric Education Utilizing a Palliative Care Framework (GEPaC) with the support of a Health Resources and Services Administration grant. The innovative curriculum showcases the interdisciplinary expertise of a variety of health professionals, including nurses, physicians, physician assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists and counselors with faculty representation from the GW Schools of Nursing, Medicine and Health Sciences, in addition to the Department of Clinical Research and Leadership.


GePaC's six online modules are designed to educate nurses, advanced practice nurses, occupational and physical therapists, physician assistants and other clinicians in an integrated geriatric-palliative approach. These online learning modules integrate a variety of media, case examples and interactive activities to engage and motivate learners. To maximize flexibility, the modules can be used individually, together with traditional classroom instruction or in purely online settings. The curriculum also includes an instructor guide to help educators effectively integrate these modules with other learning experiences.

Integrate the clinical, goals-oriented focus of geriatrics and the holistic, compassion-oriented focus of palliative care

Prioritize patient and family needs, preferences, physical and psychological development, experiences and routines in goal setting and care planning

Use collaborative strategies and the integration of appropriate health care professionals to maintain independence, prevent or relieve suffering, and promote optimum health

Facilitate effective dialogue and informed decision-making among patients, families and other providers, considering psychosocial needs, cognitive and other abilities

Support critical patient and family issues that affect their health, coping, death and bereavement, taking into account expected patterns and normal variations of growth and development

Effectively incorporate and manage the physical, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of suffering

Create a GEPaC account