Phil Larkin, President of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC)
I know when summer arrives in Ireland for three reasons: it rains, the American tourists arrive, and it rains again. It is not all bad – we have had some warm days – and the Americans are happy. So, as summer is now officially here and most of us now head off for a well-deserved break, I am writing this post to keep our members and other readers up to date with EAPC matters.
I had great pleasure in meeting many of you in Madrid in May. Our 15th EAPC World Congress was a great success. Thank you for completing the evaluation forms: we have basked in the warmth of your compliments but also listened carefully to your helpful suggestions to improve future congress organisation. As we reflect on the hard work of the past two years and plan for our next World Congress in Berlin in 2019, I again offer my thanks to the Scientific Chair, Prof Dr Christoph Ostgathe, and Dr Alberto Alonso-Babarro, Local Organising Committee Chair, as well as our colleagues in SECPAL for their dedication and commitment to the Congress. And the sun shone!
EAPC Award 2017 – recognising contribution
An important event is the EAPC Award, which this year went to Professor Sheila Payne. The award honours a person’s contribution to the work and development of both palliative care and the EAPC through scholarship and service. The EAPC Board decides the winner and Sheila was their unanimous choice for 2017. Sheila’s contribution to palliative care is remarkable in terms of the breadth of her engagement and the mark she has made on academic research, mentorship and leadership in the field. It is important that we recognise contribution and provide a forum where that can be acknowledged, and I was delighted to make this award in Madrid.
Listening to our members
Another key event for me was the opportunity to meet the presidents of our national member associations and to hear what is important to them. We need to embed this in our biennial congresses so that we can at least converse about crucial issues in palliative care, both nationally and internationally. I also met representatives from member nursing associations – equally important in establishing how we can support their professional development as a discipline in palliative care.
Reflecting on the significant messages from those meetings: together, we have a strong voice for the vision and future of palliative care but there are also gaps that we need to address. In particular, we need to operate an ‘open door’ policy so that members and member associations feel part of the work at a European level.
A resounding message was the need to review and upgrade the EAPC website and I will make that a focus of the next few months’ work. We will make a concerted effort to improve a system that needs a significant overhaul.
To some degree, 2017 marks the midway point of my presidency – two years done, two years ahead. It’s been a time of transition: a new CEO, Julie Ling, and a new administrator, Eleanor Blake, who took over from Amelia Giordano who retired officially at the end of June. And then there is the move from Milan to Brussels in terms of administration. We are still managing some of the final changes but from September 2017 we will be working out of EAPC vzw and managing our day-to-day business from Belgium and Ireland (where both Julie and Eleanor are based). My special thanks to Dr Paul Vanden Berghe, board member and treasurer, who has been pivotal in helping us set up the necessary structural and financial systems. In terms of service to you as members, you should (hopefully) see a seamless transition but we welcome your feedback during these changes.
So what of the next two years?
I think we need now a balance between consolidation in our new home and growth in terms of establishing some goals for the future; for example, strengthening our systems (including the website!), and making sure that our procedures and policies are transparent to all.
Building on an earlier opportunity to engage with the Council of Europe (see blog post), our board member, Professor Tiina Saarto from Finland, kindly represented us at a recent European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg. Next week, I will meet the leader of the working group on palliative care (who happens to be a Senator in the Irish parliament!) to talk about their work and report and how EAPC can help. Significantly, this group sees EAPC as the ‘go-to’ organisation for European perspectives in palliative care and I think this sets an important marker for the future.
Meanwhile, as the EAPC continues to grow, we look forward to the 10th World Research Congress hosted by the EAPC Research Network in Bern, Switzerland, (24-26 May 2018). Registration opens on 2 August! We’re confident of another excellent congress following the success of Dublin 2016.
And not forgetting the donkeys …
As some of you know, my two remaining donkeys now live with my neighbour who has more time to devote to their many (feeding and brushing!) demands. I see them when I can but they are fickle creatures and have made great friends with his children, so I am happy to see them well cared for in their declining years. Palliative care at its best!
I hope that each of you has time to recharge, take a break from the complexities of working life and enjoy something of the world around us in the coming weeks. Come back to your work refreshed and rested.
With best wishes for a happy summer from all at Head Office.
Keep in touch with the EAPC
- Read earlier posts about EAPC activities on our blog.
- Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/EAPC.Onlus)
- Twitter: @EAPCOnlus
- Linkedin: (http://www.linkedin.com/European Association for Palliative Care)
- EAPC website.(eapcnet.eu)
- To contact the President, Phil Larkin, or the CEO, Julie Ling, please email here..