Leaders in palliative care – time to talk?

Lukas Radbruch, Mentor on the Leadership Development Initiative; Chair of Palliative Medicine at the University of Bonn, Germany

Lukas Radbruch

Professor Lukas Radbruch

“Is it time to talk? How much time do you have left? If you had a life-threatening disease, would you want to know how much time was left? What about your patients? Do you think they would like to know as well? If you need assistance, call the palliative care team…”

This is the video message that Charmaine Blanchard, one of 20 emerging leaders of palliative care in the second cohort of the Leadership Development Initiative (LDI), had developed during the third residential course last week in Columbus in Ohio. Charmaine is the head of the Centre of Excellence for Palliative Care at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg in South Africa, the biggest hospital in the world. She and her small team struggle to provide palliative care in the units and at home in Soweto to a huge number of patients. In contrast to many services in Western European or North American countries they do not want to increase the number of patients they care for, but rather enable other physicians and nurses in the hospital to provide basic palliative care, including communication about prognosis for patients with life-limiting illnesses. Her video message is thus directed to the consultants and physicians working in other departments of the hospital, who are often reluctant, or even afraid, to break bad news to their patients.

Emerging leaders of palliative care: members of the second cohort of the Leadership Development Initiative in Ohio last week

Emerging leaders of palliative care: members of the second cohort of the Leadership Development Initiative in Ohio last week

Silviu Corbu is the head of the Palliative Care Department at the Municipal Hospital in Oradea, Romania. He also thinks that it is time to talk, but this is going much further: he wants to change the way we greet each other. Instead of “Hello, how are you?” it should be “Hello, let us talk about palliative care!” from now on.

These are just two of the amazing messages that have been developed for new projects, fine-tuned for the target audience and recorded during this past week by the LDI leaders. The range of projects cover all aspects of palliative care in the world. Odontuya Davaasuren, Associate Professor and Dean at the General Practice and Preventive Medicine Department of the  University of Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar, wants to get the hospital to set up a palliative care unit for children. Chitra Venkateswaran, Consultant in Psycho Oncology at the Department of Oncology and Palliative Care at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in Kochi, Kerala, India, recognised the suffering of patients with mental illnesses, and will establish a service to provide palliative care for these patients. And Marta Leon, professor of palliative care in the medical school at the Universidad de la Sabana in Bogota, Colombia, is developing a curriculum for health insurance companies, so that they can train the general practitioners working  for them in the community.

The LDI has provided the leaders with training and resources to develop their ideas and projects in a way that makes success very probable. Project plans and SMART objectives (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) have been drafted and stakeholders and target audiences identified. Participants were even able to prepare their media presentation with theatre director and author Ron Cameron-Lewis and get it filmed professionally by Mike Hill and Sue Collins, the team from Moonshine Movies who made the film, Life Before Death.

This course marks the end of a two-year journey, including three residential weeks, site visits and a mentorship programme. Participants have learned to become a leader from within by improving themselves, becoming a leader in their own organisation and finally becoming a leader outside their organisation. They have become familiar with tools and models for leadership and have memorised the five steps to become successful leaders: model the way, inspire a joint vision, challenge the process, enable others to act and encourage the heart.

The concept of the LDI has worked. It was amazing to see the leaders’ presentations of achievements, ongoing work and future projects, to realise what they have achieved in these past two years, and how their work has made an impact on their own services and beyond. Being together with this group of engaged, spirited and visionary people has really been a gift. Many thanks to Frank Ferris and Shannon Moore for directing the LDI through the past five years, and I do expect to see and hear much from the leaders in the two LDI cohorts in the years to come!

Find out more…
Click here to read about the Leadership Development Initiative.

This entry was posted in EDUCATION & TRAINING, NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL REPORTS and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Leaders in palliative care – time to talk?

  1. Pingback: Leaders in palliative care – time to talk? | EAPC Blog | All Things Palliative - Article Feed

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