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 Professor Carlo Leget, Professor of Care Ethics, University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Watching someone of your own age die is always an experience with great impact. When you are at the beginning of your thirties it can be an experience that you will never forget. He was one of the first patients I followed in my early research and everything in his life seemed to be the opposite of mine. A life full of problems and quarrels: early divorce, young children, and misunderstandings all around. His father had tried to be nice, bringing chocolates. But he interpreted it as another stupidity of his old man. What can you do with chocolates when your gastric cancer has made a mess of you? The big surprise came at his funeral. Suddenly a tape with his voice filled the crematorium. Consoling, uplifting and pointing out what is really important in life.
Stories of patients like this made me realise that in palliative care in my country there was very little guidance on dealing with the big questions and issues. It also taught me that the inner life of patients could be much richer and more creative than we might think. For 17 years now, I have been working on developing what is called ‘the spiritual dimension of palliative care’. First, in my own country by designing a practical model for patients, families and healthcare givers, subsequently by writing a national guideline on spiritual care for physicians and nurses; and since 2010 as co-founder and co-chair of the EAPC Taskforce on Spiritual Care.
As a professor of care ethics at the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht, The Netherlands, I follow many end-of-life discussions in my country and worldwide. And as an EAPC Board member and vice-president since 2011, I have come to appreciate how much ethics and spirituality are defined by cultural backgrounds. Understanding the great variety of the many cultures in Europe is a great challenge to the EAPC, and also one of the great opportunities that this international network offers. And that is precisely what motivates me to contribute for another four years – building bridges between cultures and making sure that North, South, East and West are equally represented and served.
The EAPC is currently going through a great transition as an organisation. With my experience, I hope to contribute to continuity for an association that enables patients and families in all countries not only to die peacefully, but also to strengthen their inner life when faced with life-threatening disease – and teach us about what is really important in life.
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.
EAPC Congress update…
If you’re joining us at the14th World Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care – Copenhagen, Denmark, 8-10 May, you can now download the final programme and the book of abstracts.
Carlo Leget and Christian Busch will be leading a Meet the Expert session on ‘Improving Spiritual Care in Clinical Practice’ on Sunday 10 May at 08.00 in Room A3 at the Congress.
Follow all the Congress events on Twitter @EAPCOnlus the official Congress hashtag is #eapc2015