Sheila Payne, President of the European Association for Palliative Care and Director of the International Observatory on End of Life Care, Lancaster University, UK, introduces our special series to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the EAPC
We have cause to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) in December 1988. This is the opening post for a series of blog posts commissioned to mark the coming of age of the EAPC. We have invited past presidents and key pioneers in the early years to share their recollections and their aspirations for the future. I find it humbling to think that I am just the sixth person to have the honour of leading the EAPC.
Of course, there are many people to thank for their vision, energy and commitment; not just those elected to serve on the EAPC Board, but everyone who has contributed to EAPC Task Forces, white papers, clinical guidelines, Atlases, innovative educational recommendations and many more outputs. The EAPC Research Network has grown from consensus-based work to multicentre international programmes of research that are making significant impacts on improving clinical management in palliative care.These activities represent an impressive community of effort that is known to influence policy and practice developments across Europe and globally. These efforts have been co-ordinated and supported by a small but dedicated secretariat based in Milan, Italy. We owe everyone who has contributed so much.
As I reflect on these achievements, my thoughts turn to what in my view we have yet to adequately address. What are the pressing problems facing European communities? In this age of austerity, I think palliative care is not yet tackling poverty, powerlessness, stigma about dying and lack of social connectivity. Economic problems in Europe have impacted on many countries. There remains great disparity in access to resources and services, both for different groups of people within countries, and across countries. For example, economic migration from central and eastern European countries to western countries may result in dislocation of communities with fewer younger family members to provide informal care to older members at the end of life. In this context, the rich community resources that support people with advanced disease to remain at home, may become depleted or absent. What impact do economic downturns have on the capacity of families to deliver care? Who will become the hospice volunteers of the future, when people have to work longer and harder to obtain their pensions?
The EAPC has initiated a number of important advocacy activities such as the Budapest Commitments, the Lisbon Challenge and in 2013, the Prague Charter. You can make a difference by signing the Prague Charter. Perhaps this could help me, and others like me, to feel empowered to take our enthusiasm for social change away from merely talk at the EAPC Congresses and into the communities where we work to deliver better, more accessible, affordable and sustainable palliative care.
Find out more…
- You can read more about EAPC task forces, activities and publications at www.eapcnet.eu
- View the video film interview with Dr Derek Doyle, a former vice-president and winner of the EAPC 2013 award.
- Follow the blog tomorrow for the next story in our special series to mark the 25thanniversary of the EAPC.