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New course on death, dying and palliative care

Anyone with a computer can enroll in the four-week course.

It’s a course that is bound to make your dinner conversation more interesting. It will take you back in history and into the future, touching on art, social media, science and language. It’s free. And you don’t have to do the homework if you don’t want to.

The first massive open online course (MOOC) on death, dying and palliative care starts at the end of this month and it is open to anyone aged 18-100 who has a computer.

The four-week course is presented by online palliative care resource CareSearch, which is aiming to increase death literacy and engage people in conversations on the topic.

CareSearch research fellow Deb Rawlings said the course was not medical or instructive. Instead, it focussed on philosophical musings, posing questions and encouraging reflections while also providing information and resources.

“You can take it at your own pace and dip in and out.”

“You can take it at your own pace and dip in and out,” said Ms Rawlings, who is also a lecturer in Palliative and Supportive Services at Flinders University.

“You can also participate in discussions as much as you like. Some people will get in there and make comments, and comment on other people’s comments. Others will just sit and read and not join in, and that’s alright as well.”

She said it was yet to be seen who would be attracted to the course, but she hoped it was adults of all ages with a range of personal and professional interests.

Ms Rawlings is presenting the first module, which will explore the language that is used when talking about death and the role and impact of euphemisms, and give insights into how funerals have changed over centuries.

Social media and the digital world will be covered in a digital dying module presented by CareSearch director Dr Jennifer Tieman.

Professor Deborah Parker, director of the Centre for Applied Nursing Research at Western Sydney University, will present a module on how death is represented in art, music and media.

Staff specialist in palliative medicine at Calvary Health Care, Dr Christine Sanderson, will explore mortality rates, the extent to which we can control and avoid death, and the extraordinary process of cryopreservation (freezing bodies in liquid nitrogen in the hope one day they might be brought to life again).

Ms Rawlings, who has worked in palliative care for 25 years, said she had noticed a significant increase in conversations about death and dying recently, particularly with the growing profile of death cafes and the Death Over Dinner project. She said the MOOC would enable CareSearch to determine whether similarly worthwhile conversations could be facilitated online.

“This is the first time we have run a MOOC and it’s the only time one on death and dying has been run for the general public. It is going to give us at CareSearch the opportunity to hear the voice of the general public. We publish hundreds of pages of information about palliative care online, but we don’t ever get to hear what people think about these issues.”

The MOOC starts on Monday 27 June. Register your interest in enrolling at


  • Sounds interesting

    - Karen Benham
  • As a qualified funeral celebrant I find great fulfilment is taking with the family and friends of the deceased in preparing the funeral service. I have on occasion, been able to assist a person who is dying in developing what they personally want in their service. I would like to be able to sit with terminally ill people (as I did with my parents and parents in law) to offer comfort and encouragement. I would like to do it better.

    - James Donald
  • How much is the course ?

    - Carol White
  • The course is completely Free of charge, and open to the general public.

    - Lauren Miller-Lewis
  • Hi I would like to no if this course is a cost to me or free as I work in a nursing home as carer have done for 20yrs, I am very passionate about providing dignity and pain free end of life even thou I am on the caring side of it still our job to advocate for these residents at their time of need.

    - Gina Shaw
  • Hi, I have registered for this course a couple of weeks ago, but not have heard from anyone re confirmation. Could your office please let me know if all ok. With Thanks, Louise Flentje

    - Louise Flentje
  • This may be an opportunity for people to experience a very positive 4 weeks of intensive discussion about death and dying. So many people do not like to takle this topic but I very strongly advocate for very wide community discussion to assist the teminal persons in our community through their passage from life to their final moments.

    - Bill Morison
  • I would appreciate further information. I have been looking for a palliative post grad course .

    - Sue
  • How do l apply to do the coarse

    - Janet devine-gordon
  • Sounds very interesting. Is it a free course?

    - Maria Nagy
  • It is free. All MOOCs are free; they are Open Online courses.

    - MH
  • Would love to do this course

    - marianne schoepf
  • To discuss this subject is so overdue!well done.To know the history,what words to use,to be able to bring up the conversation...Thankyou

    - R Farrow
  • would love to learn more

    - helen smith
  • Im an aged care nurse and I would love to do this course

    - Leanne Saporoshetz
  • I hold a Diploma in Counselling, Certificate IV Aged Care, & Diploma in Community Services. I am very interested in the course above. Would you please advise future dates of online training.

    - Susan Johnson
  • Im a RN working in aged care.....very often dealing with elderly folk dying. Would like to know more

    - Greg Cox
  • Goals of elderly care is to be preserved life. Promotes health

    - Rosina mwadulange
  • I had registered for this course but was not given any information as to when it started. I would like to register again but need direction as to when the course commences. Was very disappointed

    - Christina Ferguson
  • I am an RN who has worked in palliative care but is interested in exploring different avenues within palliative care

    - Tracy Smith
  • Interested in doing this course if there is another scheduled?

    - Dianna
  • hello I'm very interested in doing this Palliative course sadly i missed the one commencing on the 27th June when is the next one please Thank you Sandra

    - Sandra Scalzo
  • I have cancer and am currently undertaking treatment at the Royal Brisbane Womens Hospital. I would like to do this course as a future occupation in assisting families and cancer patients to understand and work through their illness and its overall affects on themselves and the people that surround them.

    - Susan Rolls
  • Am extremely interested in doing this course. How do i enrol please

    - Monique
  • I am a RN and I am intetested in the 4 week palliative care course.

    - Kym King
  • HI how do I enrol in this course please?

    - ngarui mclean
  • Are you running this course again ?

    - Lian Knight
  • Have worked ad ain for 5 years have cert 3 in age care and love palitive care love to do this course

    - Tamatha vines
  • interested in course

    - debbie carter

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