By Ángel Bataller Osorio
Manager, Cudeca Institute for Studies and Research in Palliative Care
Since its inception 30 years ago, nonprofit Cudeca has both provided palliative care and trained professionals at all levels of the social services and health care sectors to improve the quality of end-of-life care. The Cudeca Institute of Studies and Research in Palliative Care, newly housed in the purpose-built Yusuf Hamied Center, is poised to further advance its training goals.
Located in southern Spain, the center has three floors designed to accommodate all of the institute’s training and research activities that make it a global leader in the field. Unique in Spain, the Cudeca Institute integrates both academic programs and palliative care service delivery. Its new home includes a clinical simulation space and equipment to provide simultaneous translation.
The end-of-life process is a unique and unrepeatable time for the patient as well as the attending professionals. It includes the need to understand family dynamics, develop communication skills to provide better service in difficult situations (anger, anxiety, crises), understand the person-centered relationship, practice active listening, relieve multiple and changing symptoms, improve quality of life and well-being with dignity, attend to basic activities of daily living (hygiene, feeding, personal grooming, dressing), and—finally—prepare for the moment of bereavement.
The institute aims to educate all professionals who want to share Cudeca’s "special way of caring," honed over decades in its hospitalization, home care, day center, and psychosocial care programs for palliative care patients with advanced and terminal illnesses, as well as support and advice to caregivers during and after the illness.
As Cudeca founder, the late Joan Hunt, said, “We can't add more days to patients’ lives, but we do care to add life to their days.”
The institute offers training in different formats and durations, both online and in person, including postgraduate courses in palliative care as well as other courses, with bedside training by Cudeca's own hospice and at-home palliative care providers.
Options include a Master’s Degree in Palliative Care and a Specialization Diploma run jointly with the University of Malaga. A variety of experts train students in a mixed classroom/online format focused particularly on honing the skills of professionals from Latin American countries. The Master’s program consists of 1,500 hours of specialized palliative care training; students can choose to incorporate internships at Cudeca’s facilities.
The Cudeca Institute also promotes and participates in innovative research projects with international networks working to expand palliative care and ensure continuous improvement. One example is its participation in the iLive Project, a four-year research project with various European centers “to develop novel, evidence-based, sustainable interventions to relieve the symptoms and suffering that may occur at end of life for patients and their families.” Cudeca’s role is “to enhance the engagement of the community with the reality of death and dying and effectively disseminate the project’s outcomes.” Other Cudeca projects include: the CUIDPAL study into the quality of life of caregivers; pharmaco-economics, a clinical and economic evaluation of palliative care medicines; and research into a diagnostic instrument for palliative care complexity.
The Yusuf Hamied Center is named in honor of Dr. Yusuf Hamied, CEO of CIPLA Pharmaceuticals and a philanthropist who is committed to the palliative care movement. In 2018, he pledged the full cost of building and maintaining the center, which opened this year.
Filled with natural light, the 12,900 ft2 (1,200 m2) center has classrooms with movable and soundproof dividers, a library, offices and meeting rooms, a study area, a kitchen, and large terraces overlooking the sea. The auditorium is under construction.