This new series introduces candidates for the European Association for Palliative Care Board of Directors who will be standing for election (or in some cases re-election) in May 2015. We hope the blog posts provide an opportunity for candidates to explain more about themselves and how they might contribute to the EAPC and the palliative care community more generally. Board members are nominated by national associations or, in a few cases, by individual members. They are elected as individuals to service the EAPC for a four-year term, with one additional opportunity to be re-elected. The EAPC is keen to have Board members from all disciplines, at all stages of their career, and from all parts of Europe.
The series continues today with Dr Martin Loučka, Director of The Center for Palliative Care, Prague, Czech Republic.
I am a Czech psychologist and director of the Center for Palliative Care in Prague. I gained a PhD in Health Research at Lancaster University in the UK, under the supervision of Prof Sheila Payne and Dr Sarah Brearley. My thesis was focused on reviewing the methodological challenges of international comparative research in palliative care.
My interest in palliative care began in the second year of my undergraduate studies when I learned about existential psychotherapy and the work of Rollo May and Irvin Yalom. In existential psychotherapy, death is one of the fundamental givens of existence, which every person must deal with. I was reading a lot about different psychological theories back then and this approach made the most sense to me. I started looking around to see if anybody used this perspective in clinical work and palliative care was the obvious first place to go. I attended a two-year international training in paediatric palliative care, organised by an excellent hospice in Bratislava called ‘The Flicker’, and it started a fire in my heart, which has still not gone out.
I believe that palliative care can make a real difference to the lives of patients with incurable diseases. So I would like to see universal access to palliative care for all people who need it. It sounds very ambitious, I know, but visions should be ambitious, right? We have great hospices in many European countries, including the Czech Republic, my home. But to achieve this big goal, we will need more than hospices. We will need education about palliative care for all medical and nursing students, adequate recognition from policy makers and stakeholders, and perhaps most importantly functional models of collaboration between all relevant providers of health and social care. This is huge, but I believe that we can succeed and one of my interests in palliative care is developing projects, which can help this dream come true. I am also very interested in the decision- making process and the role of family.
What I would hope to contribute to the EAPC if elected
If elected to the EAPC Board, I would hope to bring my experiences with international research and networking, which I gained during my years in the EURO IMPACT project and in the US as a Fulbright Scholar at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. I could also bring the perspective from an Eastern European country, which I see as important, because there are still so many differences in the vitality of the palliative care movement between Eastern and Western EAPC member countries. And lastly, being a psychologist I would be happy to support the importance of psychosocial aspects of palliative care.
Outside of palliative care I am a keen rock climber and guitarist but since my daughter was born 11 months ago, I discovered the overwhelming joy of being a father. So now, when I get some free time, I usually build endless towers of fabric boxes or play chase with my little princess.
Coming up on the EAPC blog…
Each week in the run-up to the elections, we shall be publishing more posts from our candidates. Click here to read those already published and look out next week for the next in the series.
Are you coming to Copenhagen?
See you at the 14th World Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care – Copenhagen, Denmark, 8-10 May, 2015. Follow us on Twitter @EAPCOnlus – our official congress hashtag is #eapc2015