For the past 36 years Dr David Oliver has been at the coalface of palliative care, working as a hospice medical director as well as playing a pioneering role in neurological palliative care. Prof Dr Gian Domenico Borasio, Chair in Palliative Medicine, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, looks at David’s important contribution to this expanding field.
Palliative care in neurology is an all-important, yet hitherto still mostly neglected field of clinical medicine. Recent advances have enlarged the evidence base for neurological palliative care, which for a long time had been restricted mainly to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), to diseases such as stroke, movement disorders, and multiple sclerosis, to name but a few. In addition, palliative care in dementia is picking up speed strongly.
Encouragingly, the World Federation of Neurology (WFN) has shown increased attention to palliative care in recent years: the last three World Congresses of Neurology each had at least two sessions (one teaching course and one scientific session) on neurological palliative care. The WFN is looking at palliative care as one of its main topics for the future.
One of the pioneers of palliative care in neurology is Dr David Oliver FRCP, Medical Director of the Wisdom Hospice in Rochester, UK, and Honorary Reader at the University of Kent. He worked at St Christopher’s Hospice with Dame Cicely Saunders in 1983-84 and subsequently developed a keen interest in neurological palliative care, particularly in ALS. He has written several seminal papers on the topic and is the lead editor of the standard book in the field, ‘Palliative Care in ALS’ (one of the first books devoted to palliative care in a non-oncological disorder). He is also author of the book ‘Motor Neurone Disease – a Family Affair’ (now in its 3rd edition), co-editor of the book ‘Palliative Care in Neurology’, and has most recently edited a book on ‘End of Life Care in Neurological Disease’.
David is in high demand as a palliative care teacher worldwide, and has lectured extensively, eg in Eastern Europe, Africa and Australia. In 2001, he received the Humanitarian Award at the International Symposium on ALS/MND. Since 2008, he has led the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) Task Force on Neurology and Palliative Care, which has just finalised a manuscript on consensus guidelines for the care of people with neurological disease. Since 2011, he has been a member of the EAPC Board of Directors.
After 36 years in palliative care, David will retire from his position at the Wisdom Hospice on February 1st. This will luckily provide him (as he freely admits) with more time to devote to teaching and research, and we all look forward to his further contributions to the field.
David’s skills and accomplishments as a clinician, a scientist and a teacher are truly impressive. His kindness, modesty and devotion to improving the care of his patients and families have been a source of inspiration to many a palliative care clinician worldwide, and we all hope that this will continue to be so for many years to come.
Links and resources…
- Click here for information about the EAPC Task Force on Neurology and Palliative Care.
- Voltz R, Bernat J, Borasio GD, Maddocks I, Oliver D, Portenoy R (eds). Palliative Care in Neurology. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press; 2004.
- Oliver D, Borasio GD, Walsh D. (eds). Palliative Care in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: From diagnosis to bereavement. 2nd edition. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press; 2006.
- Oliver D (ed). Motor Neurone Disease – a Family Affair 3rd edition. London: Sheldon; 2011.
- Oliver D (ed). End of Life Care in Neurological Disease. London: Springer; 2012.
And a special message from the European Association for Palliative Care
Congratulations David on a job well done and many good wishes to you for your future projects from friends and colleagues in the EAPC.