Answering seven questions about the state of palliative care for older persons in your country can influence global policy

IAHPC is coordinating information on palliative care for older people and urgently needs the help of EAPC members and readers. Katherine Pettus, PhD, Advocacy Officer, International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC), explains how you can contribute.

Dr Katherine Pettus

This summer, the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (9th Session) (OEWGA9) will consider two Focus Areas; Palliative and Long-term care, and Autonomy and Independence. See my 2017 EAPC blog post on the 8th Session for background on this year’s meeting. The upcoming session provides palliative care practitioners and advocates with an unprecedented opportunity to build dynamic relationships with the Health and Social Service ministries in your countries that oversee and fund the care of older adults. 

Please assume that your country Missions and delegations at the UN at OEWGA9 will not know how to describe the situation of palliative care for older persons in your countries. It is up to you to educate them so they can participate accurately in the floor debates.

They will need your help! And IAHPC needs your help because we are coordinating the inputs of all our partners on the palliative care questions for OEWGA9.

The questions and suggestions on how to answer them are listed below. If you can support your answers with research, all the better, but this is a political and informational process, rather than an academic one. It is just as important to note where you cannot find answers to the questions, as to provide substantive answers. Highlighting gaps in protection and standard setting will be key to the discussions.

I will be representing our membership and partners at OEWGA9. My deadline to compile everyone’s answers is 9 April 2018. Please email your input on or before Monday, 26 March 2018 to Katherine Pettus

OEWGA9This link is to a reference list, which is mostly European reviews, on the topic of older persons’ right to long-term and palliative care. I will appreciate additions!

It is important to coordinate this effort through regional and national associations, to reduce duplication and unnecessary work. IAHPC is also working with Age Platform Europe.

The Seven Guiding Questions, and help in finding answers

  1. In your country/region, how is palliative care defined in legal and policy frameworks? Search your Ministry of Health (MoH) website for a national policy or law that will contain a definition; ask contacts in the MoH, if you have them. Ask if your regional or national palliative care association has a definition, and if your government has adopted it.
  2. What are the specific needs and challenges facing older persons regarding endoflife care? You probably know from your own practice and knowledge. Ask colleagues who work in nursing homes. Check with your national or regional association of geriatricians.
  3.  Are there studies, data, and evidence available? As in Question 2. Ask your national geriatric/gerontology association.
  4. To what extent is palliative care available to all older persons on a nondiscriminatory basis? Survey nursing homes and geriatricians, or mine national and international websites on geriatrics.
  5. How is palliative care provided in relation to longterm care as described above and other support services for older persons? Is palliative care provided in nursing homes? Apply the suggestions for question 4.
  6. Are there good practices available in terms of longterm care and palliative care? Check with social service and justice ministries. Contact the ministry responsible for older persons in your country and set up an appointment to discuss this question with them. Visit some nursing homes.
  7. What are lessons learned from human rights perspectives? This means: Is there abuse and neglect? Are older persons over-medicated, or denied appropriate medical treatment? Check with your national human rights institute/organization (NHRI). Find more information here.

Thank you for your help.



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