This 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 Paul Vanden Berghe, Director of the Flemish Federation of Palliative Care in Belgium.
My academic background is in philosophy and theology. I have been a post-doctoral fellow in fundamental ethics, with bedside experience as a pastoral caregiver, and since 2006 I have been Director of the Flemish Federation of Palliative Care in Belgium. My wife claims that I have something about old people – which she doesn’t take as a compliment! But she is probably right in the sense that I have always had a fascination for people with a lot of experience of life. For example, I often used to accompany youngsters on holiday visits to a home for older people – history made tangible and philosophy in everyday practice. But if there is anything that I miss of my former life, it’s the night shifts in the University hospital as a pastoral caregiver.
For the past four years, I have been a member of the EAPC Board of Directors and, if re-elected, would like to work on the following priorities:
Palliative care policy
As a member of several national councils related to palliative care and end-of-life care, and as a member of the EAPC Board and of the working group EAPC-EUGMS (European Union Geriatric Medicine Society), I hope to foster palliative care at a European level. Working in the backyard of Brussels, I would like to liaise further with the European Commission on behalf of the EAPC. The new commission (2014-2019) offers an opportunity to develop palliative care, which we should grasp to the utmost, and also to reinforce independent research projects and programmes.
Ethics of palliative care and end of life care
Involved in the Belgian debate on bioethics, and as co-author of both the forthcoming EAPC ‘White Paper on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide’ (with Radbruch and Leget 2015, revision of 2003), and of ‘Assisted dying – the current situation in Flanders: Euthanasia embedded in palliative care’ (EJPC 2013), I am concerned that the philosophy, values and resources of palliative care should be safeguarded wherever palliative sedation and/or euthanasia are discussed and practised. Moreover, as the acceptance of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is growing among the European general public, it is my strong conviction that palliative care professionals should not leave this issue to populists and bureaucrats, but raise their voices and get involved in the debate, so that we are not surprised by legislative initiatives on active life ending, especially where palliative care is not yet well provided. Given that all European countries suffer budgetary constraints (to a greater of lesser extent) while their populations are ageing rapidly this is a first-line challenge for the years to come.
I live in a small country with three official languages and my candidacy is supported by the Federation of the Brussels Region and the Federation of Wallonia. I am therefore especially concerned that there should be a strong representation of the French-speaking palliative care community in Europe and of Southern Europe in general.
With four young children my life outside palliative care is busy. Before becoming a Board member I used to grow my own vegetables, practise woodworking and perform the repairs on our old family car. Now I limit myself to the ‘palliative car’ and, of course, my family.
More about the EAPC Board elections…
EAPC Board elections take place on Saturday 9 May from 10.00 am until 3.00 pm in room 171 of the Congress Center. If you are a member of the EAPC and eligible to vote please do go along and place your vote. Members can find more information on voting procedures and all the candidates standing for election on the EAPC website. (Members will need to login to access these pages).
We are also publishing candidates’ posts on the EAPC Blog in the run-up to the elections. Click here to read previous posts from other candidates.
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.
Vous venez à Copenhague?
Nous aurons le plaisir de vous accueillir au 14ième Congrès Mondial de l’Association Européenne de Soins Palliatifs à Copenhague au Danemark, du 8 au 10 mai 2015. Vous pouvez décharger le programme final, ainsi que le livre des résumés. Suivez-nous sur Twitter @EAPCOnlus avec le hashtag officiel #eapc2015