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Online course answers the questions you've been dying to ask

Education

ONE of the world’s first online courses in dying will bring the subject of death out of the shadows to help people prepare early for the end of their days.

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Palliative care researchers at Flinders University in South Australia will run the free five-week Dying2Learn Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from June 27 – 31 to spark community discussions about the choices available to people and how they can affect the circumstances of their death.

Flinders University researcher and palliative care specialist Christine Sanderson said the course would be highly beneficial for people from every walk of life, not just those in the health industry or people with terminal illnesses.

“There is a lot of research about how to make decisions in a crisis and also we know that people who have thoughts and conversations among their families about their own philosophies, wishes and ideas are more likely to get what they want,” she said.

“People often do a lot worse in bereavement when they are not prepared for losing someone.

“When family members are suddenly sick and you really haven’t had a chance to think things through or about choices they might have, sometimes being a bit prepared can make things easier.”

Australian research has shown that only 10 per cent of people discuss their end-of-life-wishes and almost half die without writing a will – while 70 per cent of people express a wish to die at home but only 14 per cent actually do.

Dr Sanderson said preparing for death allowed people to have better conversations with their doctors and limited the amount of unexpected news.

“A MOOC is completely interactive and we will be running a chatroom where myself and an intensive care doctor will be there to answer questions,” she said.

“We are not pushing on any viewpoint, it is really a chance for people to reflect and be exposed to a whole range of points of views and facts they may not have come across. It is not morbid and will be quite interesting.”

Course topics will include:

Anyone in the world can enrol in the MOOC. It was developed by the university’s CareSearch program, which aims to provide up to date information and links to quality resources in palliative care, including materials produced specifically for patients, carers and doctors.

Course developer and Flinders University researcher Lauren Miller-Lewis said this was the first time everyday people together with academics, researchers and health professionals had the opportunity to explore the social aspects of dying in an online course.

She said the course would inform research into people's attitudes towards death and dying.

“It will also help improve community connections and encourage people to work together. It’s hoped that by starting this conversation we, as a community, can start to accept death as an inevitable part of life,” Dr Miller-Lewis said.

For more details and to register, visit the course website, which will be made available for international participants as well.

South Australia’s capital Adelaide has three long-standing public universities, Flinders University, University of South Australia, and the University of Adelaide, each of which are consistently rated highly in the international higher education rankings.

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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