Module 1: Introduction


This course is currently being run only for one organisation as it was useful to them now. 

The course will then be reviewed and go on general release in March.

However, if you are from another organisation currently involved in considering or planning for end-of-life care and need access now please contact us. 


1.1 Welcome

Welcome to this course. We are working with specific centres to help them prepare and refine strategies to deliver good end-of-life care for PDoC patients, and support their families and the staff. Later in the year we will also be running an open scheduled course for any individual who is interested in learning more about this issue. (Register your interest for a future scheduled course via:

If you are doing this course now then start by clicking on the audio below to listen to the introduction (2 minutes) from Professor Jenny Kitzinger.  You can also click on the ‘text version’ of the audio if you prefer to read the information.

Click here for Text Version of welcome audio

What is the course about? Welcome to this short course on end-of-life care for patients in ‘Prolonged Disorders of Consciousness’. The focus in on patients in vegetative or minimally conscious states. The course explores staff and family views, experiences and support needs when considering discontinuation of clinically-assisted nutrition and hydration and provides an introduction to related palliative care issues.

Who is it for? This course is designed primarily for staff working in hospices, rehabilitation centres and care homes and can be useful whatever your level of experience.

When is this training useful? We developed this training in response to staff asking for support around decision-making or after decisions had been made about withdrawing feeding tubes from patients. The training is designed to be done at any point and it is important in fact not to wait until after such decisions have been made. Knowledge about different end-of-life care pathways are important to inform decision-making itself. In addition, providing information and support well in advance can be very helpful to the whole multi-disciplinary team and to the families involved.

Course structure: The course has different units most of which take about 10 or 20 minutes to complete. There are short film clips and presentations to watch and reflective exercises and quizzes too.

Kit: You can do the course on any computer or mobile phone that connects to the internet. You’ll need to use your in-built speaker or earphones for listening to the film clips. There are simplified transcriptions of the interviews with health care staff and family members – but you’ll get a much more powerful sense of what people are saying if you can hear them speak for themselves.

Continuing Professional Development certificate: At the end of the course you’ll have an opportunity to summarise your learning and give feedback and to download your Continuing Professional Development [CPD] certificate.

Images used in this course: We wanted to avoid stock images of crinkly hands, intensive care machines or ‘sleeping beauties’ that so often illustrate end-of-life care. We were delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with Tim Sanders (visual artist and cartoonist) and Karin Andrews Jashapara (shadow puppet theatre producer). We hope you’ll enjoy seeing some of their work. The photographs below show Karin Andrews Jashapara at work creating ‘shadow puppet theatre’ exploring some of the themes unpacked in this course.

Who produced the course? This course has been produced by the ‘Coma and Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre’ at Cardiff University ( Course development was led by Professor Jenny Kitzinger (Cardiff University, JOMEC) working with Professor Celia Kitzinger (School of Law), Dr Julie Latchem-Hastings (Medicine) and Dr Geraldine Latchem-Hastings (Health Sciences). Between us, we bring together expertise in family experience, communication, law, ethics and clinical practice. 

Who contributed? We’re very grateful for the skill of our website developer and educational technologist, Liz Fahy (Geckosurfing). We also had input from different healthcare professionals and people with relatives in prolonged disorders of consciousness – it’s been great team work!

Context of this e-learning: This is one of several courses we run. This ‘End-of-Life Care’ course can be done as stand-alone training but if you want to know more register interest in  other courses here 

We hope you find this course valuable and that it helps to improve care for patients, staff and patients’ families.

Now click on the ‘Mark as Completed’ button at the bottom of this page. 

Then click on the ‘Next Unit’ button to move on through the course.