The European Palliative Care Academy (EUPCA) has just completed its third course week in Gdansk, Poland. Course leaders, Rev Dr Piotr Krakowiak, UMK University of Toruń, and Anna Janowicz, Hospice Foundation, Gdansk, describe some of the high points of the week.
Early in October, 19 EUPCA participants descended on Gdansk for the third course week of this exciting training programme that aims to develop future leaders to advance palliative care across Europe. We led the course, together with Dr Natasza Kosakowska-Berezecka, Dr Katarzyna Skrzypinska, Dr Malgorzata Krajnik, among others. The main topic – the importance of teamwork in palliative care – is fundamental to the sustainable development of palliative care services worldwide and efficient teamwork is paramount to successful leadership. Taught by experts, participants discussed how to build, develop and strengthen their teams. Their role as leaders and their leadership style were analysed and participants learned about practical tools to motivate team members and prevent burnout. The second part of the week focused on spiritual, intercultural and medical challenges faced by palliative care teams.
A highlight and a positive example for palliative care in Poland was meeting Lech Walesa, the world-renowned leader of the Solidarity Movement, winner of the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize and former President of Poland. Together with Prof. Joanna Muszkowska-Penson, co-founder of the Polish hospice movement, President Walesa gave invaluable insight into the development of the country’s healthcare system and how the solidarity movement influenced the beginning of hospices there. The meeting left a lasting impression on all present.
As one student remarked:
“Walesa … repeated that what we are doing is important. We should talk to our politicians, showing what we are doing and demanding their help and support.”
A student from Poland commented:
“Prof. Muszkowska-Penson told us that when she was training as a doctor she saw that terminal patients were abandoned and she could not leave those people like that – we have started to change it with our [own] home care team of volunteers.”
As is customary for the EUPCA Leadership Course, participants visit a palliative care institute in the host country. Participants saw Polish examples of local best practice with visits to the Father Dutkiewicz Hospice, meetings with the adult home care team and inpatient team members, as well as with professionals and volunteers from the mobile children’s hospice team. Other experts and volunteers presented the activities of the Gdansk Hospice Foundation that has been promoting the idea of hospice care in the community since 2004, and leads many regional and nationwide educational campaigns for both professionals and volunteers. Participants also got to know prisoners who, through volunteering in the hospice, are striving towards social re-adaptation and regaining mutual trust based on good conduct and helping those who suffer.
We hope the students enjoyed this week in Poland as much as we enjoyed their commitment, active participation, vivid interest in our history and present joys and challenges of hospice and palliative care.
Find out more
- European Palliative Care Academy
- Next course: EUPCA 2017. Check the EUPCA website on Thursday 15 December for more information about our next course.
Read more posts from students and leaders of the European Palliative Care Academy on the EAPC Blog.