The Palliative Nursing Competency Framework (PNCF) is a guide to provide clarity on the roles, responsibilities and associated competencies for nurses working in the palliative care settings.

Nurses, employers and course providers may use the PNCF as a reference to set job role expectations, develop training roadmaps and design workplace-based nursing education courses. 

The PNCF is applicable to all settings ranging from primary care to acute care and community care. The framework lists 7 Job Role Profiles (JRPs) for all the 12 job roles identified in the palliative care nursing sector, and 14 Professional Competencies (PCs) organised into 4 competency domains.

The Palliative Nursing Competency Framework Development Workgroup has identified the following 6 existing and emerging skill areas which are crucial in palliative care. Nurses are encouraged to further develop their competencies in these areas to improve the overall care plan for patients with life-limiting illnesses.

  1. Holistic symptom assessment and management

    Management of pain and other symptoms, including not only physical but also psychosocial and spiritual, should be assessed and addressed in a holistic manner instead of episodic care.

  2. Grief and Bereavement Support

    Providing a support system for patients, families, and caregivers to cope with losses during the patient’s illness journey, as well as bereavement.

  3. Psychosocial and Spirituality

    Apart for physical care, other aspects should also be taken into consideration such as psychosocial and spirituality which includes providing counselling and treating patients with dignity. Individualized psychosocial and spiritual care, regarding the patient as a whole, is key in promoting an appropriate response to the patient’s unique needs and the dying process.

  4. Inter-professional Collaboration

    Holistic care for patients would require close collaborations with other healthcare professionals such as doctors and therapists, as well as clinicians from other specialty areas.

  5. Conversations

    Palliative care nurses should be familiar with and initiate various conversations with patients, families, and caregivers as early as possible. These include conversations on Advance Care Planning, serious illnesses, and end-of-life care discussion.

  6. Outcome Measures
    Using analytical tools and methods to measure palliative care outcomes of patient’s health over time and influence disease modification by gaining insights to a patient’s illness and dying experience.

You may download the PNCF here.