Caru
Supporting Care and Compassion at End of Life in Nursing Homes
A continuous learning programme

Caru is a new learning programme for nursing homes. The initiative has been developed by the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) in partnership with All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC) and the HSE.  For the Caru website, please follow this link.

This five-year programme is offered free of charge to every Nursing Home in Ireland, numbering approximately 580.  Its aim is to improve the delivery to residents of compassionate and person-centred palliative, end-of-life, and bereavement care.

Project ECHO

Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is an internationally recognised collaborative model of health education and care management.  It leverages technology to share knowledge and expertise to increase the capacity of local resources.

Project ECHO is intended to connect people, to build relationships and communities of learning, and to provide a safe environment that facilitates open discussion between participants.  It is explicitly non-hierarchical and participatory in nature, with Network participants involved in curriculum setting, case presentations, discussion, and evaluation. The network fosters a spirit of collaborative learning in a safe, inclusive and supportive environment.

Since launching in 2003, Project ECHO has become a global knowledge and change movement and learning framework. Its work has been evaluated among the world’s most prestigious medical journals, including British Medical Journal (BMJ), The Lancet, The Journal of American Medical Association, and dozens more.

Please follow this link if you would like to watch a short (1:30) introductory video.

Caru AIIHPC Project ECHO Nursing Home Knowledge Networks

A Caru Project ECHO Nursing Home Knowledge Network is being established in each CHO area. Please follow this link for a breakdown of Community Health Organisations (CHOs) in Ireland.

The ECHO networks for CHO2, CHO3, CHO6, CHO7 and CHO9 are under way and updates are set out below. The ECHO networks for areas CHO1, CHO4, CHO5 and CHO8 will be established in 2024.

The aim of these virtual learning networks is to increase the knowledge, skills, and confidence of staff in nursing homes to support and manage residents with palliative and end of life needs.

Learners from nursing homes Join their ECHO sessions from wherever they are via Zoom.  Any device with a microphone and camera will be able to connect, for example a laptop, tablet, personal computer or mobile phone. ECHO sessions are recorded and are available to network members on The Caru Learning Hub.

For your nursing home, this is a cost effective and practical means of increasing your care capacity while optimising your existing staff resources. For your staff, it is a first-class, convenient, and supportive learning and development opportunity.  Participation is free and is open to all private and public nursing homes. 

To join the Project ECHO Programme, a senior staff member must complete an application form on behalf of the nursing home.  Participating staff, typically 3-8 staff per nursing home, are nominated on the application form. We will email each of your nominated staff and complete their personal registration to the network.  Links to join Project ECHO meetings can only be sent to registered participants.

At their first meeting, registered learners, together with the participants from other local nursing homes, will agree the ten topics for their learning curriculum. They will also agree the best day and time of their Project ECHO sessions.

The initial ECHO Programme consists of ten online learning sessions. Sessions take place every fortnight and each session is of 1.5 hours’ duration. All nursing home staff are welcome. Each participant receives a certificate of attendance. Following the initial ten-session programme the network will revert to quarterly Project ECHO learning sessions.

In the inclusive ECHO educational model, everyone is a teacher, and everyone is a learner. A typical ECHO session is 60-90 minutes long.  A topic expert delivers a 20-minute teaching session. This is followed by anonymised case presentations or breakout workshops where the topic is explored under a local lens. The participants then discuss together the current issues or experiences they face and explore the best courses of action or outcomes.

The Caru Project ECHO Programme is managed, and the sessions facilitated, by a specially trained facilitator from a local hospice partner. Topic-related educators and panellists will be drawn from the local specialist multidisciplinary and community palliative care teams.

If you would like your nursing home to participate in your local Project ECHO Programme, and wish your staff to benefit from this unique and valuable learning and networking opportunity, please download and complete the appropriate application form below and return it echo@aiihpc.org

Caru AIIHPC Project ECHO Networks Update. October 2023

CHO2 (Galway, Roscommon, Mayo)

This learning network is being delivered in partnership with Galway Hospice Foundation.  An online information briefing for nursing homes in CHO2 was held on Wednesday 27 September.  The recording of this meeting is available at this link.  The application form for nursing homes to join this network is available to download here.

CHO3 (Clare, Limerick, North Tipperary)

This learning network is being delivered in partnership with Milford Care Centre. An online information briefing for nursing homes in CHO3 was held on Tuesday 19 September. The recording of this meeting is available at this link. The application form for nursing homes to join this network is available to download here.

CHO6 (Wicklow, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin South East)

This learning network is being delivered in partnership with Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services. An online information briefing for nursing homes in CHO6 was held on Thursday 6 October. The recording of this meeting is available at this link  The application form for nursing homes to join this network is available to download here.

CHO7 (Kildare, West Wicklow, Dublin West, Dublin South City, Dublin South West)

This learning network is being delivered in partnership with Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services.  The network has completed its initial ten-session programme.  The network will resume its meetings soon following a short break. The meetings will continue on a quarterly basis.  The network remains open to new applications. The application form for nursing homes to join this network is available to download here.

CHO9 (Dublin North, Dublin North Central, Dublin North West)

This learning network is being delivered in partnership with St Francis Hospice. The network has completed its initial ten-session programme.  The network will resume its meetings soon following a short break. The meetings will continue on a quarterly basis.  The network remains open to new applications. The application form for nursing homes to join this network is available to download here.

Examples of Project ECHO curriculum topics

The network members will be involved in deciding what topics will be covered during the ten learning sessions.  Potential topics could include:

  • Assessing palliative care needs for nursing home residents
  • Advance care planning
  • Accessing services
  • Polypharmacy
  • Infection control
  • Nutrition and hydration
  • Managing symptoms
  • Managing co-morbidity
  • Self-care and resilience

Project ECHO Information Meetings

As the establishment of Caru AIIIHPC Project ECHO networks rolls out, staff in nursing homes in each Community Health Area (CHO) will be invited to attend our Project ECHO briefings.  Here they will learn:

  • How ECHO is different to a webinar or telemedicine
  • What the benefits of ECHO are to nursing home residents, staff and management
  • How the Caru AIIHPC nursing home knowledge networks will operate
  • How a nursing home can participate in this ECHO network

For further information on the Caru Programme, Caru Webinars or Caru AIIHPC Project Echo Nursing Home Knowledge Networks please contact:

Miriam Ahern, Project Manager for Nursing Home Education      e: mahern@aiihpc.org     t: 087 096 4468