Prof Xavier Gómez-Batiste, Director of the Càtedra de Cures Palliatives/Cátedra de Cuidados Paliativos and Chair of Palliative Care, University of Vic, and MDulce Fontanals, Carles Blay and Jordi Roca-Casas, Deputy Directors
It is a great pleasure to announce the Chair of Palliative Care at the University of Vic, a joint initiative between the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) and the University of Vic, (Barcelona), and the first in Catalonia and Spain. Palliative care in Catalonia was born in Vic 25 years ago, and now we achieve this challenge after many years of work.
Key areas of work
The Chair of Palliative Care will focus on promoting a public health, community-oriented approach, and to widen access to palliative care beyond cancer. This approach was initially developed in the 1980s by Eric Wilkes, followed by Jan Stjernswård, Vittorio Ventafridda, Kathy Foley and, more recently, by Irene Higginson and Frank Ferris. The Chair will conduct the official Masters of Palliative Care (for doctors, nurses, psychologists and social workers), research programmes on service evaluation, and will advise and support health and social care organisations to design, implement and evaluate palliative care services and programmes. A key focus of the work will be to improve palliative care for patients in the community with chronic illness, of all causes and conditions. There will be strong links to primary care, geriatric care and nursing homes, in the context of the Chronic Care Programme at the Department of Health, and to develop psychosocial and spiritual areas of care, supported by La Caixa Foundation.
The new department is a branch of the Qualy Observatory and World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Palliative Care Public Health Programmes at the ICO, and a joint partnership with Sta Creu Hospital in Vic (a socio-health center), SARQuavitae (a Spanish geriatric and nursing home provider), and Primary and Chronic Care Programmes at the Department of Health.
How it all began
My own career in palliative care began in the 1980s when I received a Help the Hospices fellowship and Professor Eric Wilkes was my tutor. I trained at several hospices and palliative care units in the UK: Sobell House, Oxford; Royal Marsden hospital; St Joseph’s and St Christopher’s in London; St Luke’s in Sheffield and St John’s in Lancaster. In 1987, I went home to Vic to implement a palliative care programme at the Sta Creu Hospital, a socio-health centre (intermediate care), linked to the community. In 1989, palliative care was extended to all of Catalonia as a WHO Demonstration Project, which has achieved a high coverage.
Now, after 25 years, it’s time to celebrate and we thank you all for your advice and help, and remember Vittorio Ventafridda and Eric Wilkes who made the first steps in this perspective of palliative care. We hope to share and cooperate with all of you in this initiative and work towards achieving palliative care as a basic human right for people with all diseases, in all settings and countries.