The Framework, consisting of eight Modules of Learning, is a set of resources for Irish healthcare ethics and law lecturers, students, health professionals and allied workers to support and enhance teaching and learning about the diverse ethical issues that arise in relation to death and dying. It is the outcome of a unique collaboration between University College Cork, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the Irish Hospice Foundation, with contributions from ethicists, legal experts, theologians, sociologists and clinicians. It draws on a range of values and principles that have been identified as important considerations in end-of-life decision making by international experts in bioethics and by professional codes of conduct, policy documents and laws. It is also informed by extensive national and international research on patients’ and families’ experiences of death and dying and the contribution of health professionals and organizations to quality end-of-life care.
The educational aim of the Framework is not to tell people what to do, but to offer tools for thinking about difficult problems. The objective is to foster a range of ethical skills and competencies to ensure that ethical decisions are arrived at in the most reasonable, sensitive and collaborative way possible. Readers are introduced to the process of ethical reasoning and resolution through interactive learning and reflection on case studies drawn from practice in clinical settings in Ireland and elsewhere. These bring into sharper focus the need for sensitivity to the unique stories and circumstances of individual patients and families.