From Professor Christoph Ostgathe, President of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC).
In many western cultures, the end of the year is a time for giving presents. As palliative care professionals, we often receive gifts from our patients and their relatives. Most of us will have access to a huge amount of cookies and sweets and receive many ’thank you’ cards that always arrive in our palliative care units at Christmas. The best gifts, however, are the narratives of our patients – real life, unpacked and often very sustainable.
A few days ago one of my patients, Mrs Z, provided me with a little narrative. This very nice lady with a keen sense of humour had seen most of the world when she worked for a diplomat. All her life, she knew what she wanted and how to get it. During my first visit, Mrs Z – she suffers from severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) with immobilising dyspnoea – was delighted to report her first interaction with palliative care:
“You know, I was on an internal medicine ward, and I was really jealous of my neighbour, who was so lovingly and comprehensively cared for by a few rather nice people. In particular, I wanted access to ‘wellbeing physiotherapy’ too.”
Mrs Z reported asking the nurse on duty, “What do I have to do to get this form of care?” The nurse answered with a low voice and sad face,“Oh, you have to be very, very ill, this is the palliative care team.”
“Hey! That’s great!,” Mrs Z answered,“bring them to me, I guess fortunately I am ill enough!”
She told the nurse this with tears of laughter in her eyes.
Many days throughout the year are full of little narrative gifts like this. It is these sweet and happy stories that sustain us in palliative care when the stories are not so happy.
Looking back on 2019
It is hard to believe that the festive season is already upon us and that 2019 is nearly over. Thanks to our members and supporters, 2019 has been an exceptionally busy and successful year for the EAPC. I would like to take the opportunity of this festive season to say thank you for all you do to help us achieve our mission of speaking with ‘One Voice, One Vision’ on matters that are important in palliative care.
This year was an election year which meant that we said a grateful goodbye to some of our board members. We are thankful for all their hard work and commitment. In particular, I would like to thank my predecessor, Professor Phil Larkin, for his huge contribution to the EAPC over the past four years and his leadership through the transition of the EAPC from Italy to our new habitat in Belgium. The new board are already working hard on the issues that are important in palliative care. This hard work will go on for them over the coming four-year board term of office.
In May 2019, with one of our German member associations, the German Association for Palliative Medicine (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Palliativmedizin, DGP), we hosted our World Congress in Berlin. For the first time, we had more than 3,000 delegates at an EAPC event. Having read every one of the 1,000 plus evaluations that our delegates completed we have noted the things you loved and also those that you did not like. We have already put this information to good use in the planning of our next World Congress which will take place in Helsinki, Finland in 2021.
Looking forward to 2020
A new year is coming and no doubt new challenges and opportunities for all of us. 2020 is a World Research Congress year. I hope to see many of you in Palermo in May 2020. The scientific committee received nearly 1,100 abstract submissions; a research congress record. I am in no doubt that this Congress will be a highlight of our palliative care year and that you will enjoy the beautiful island of Sicily and all that it offers.
For now, I hope that as Christmas approaches you will enjoy the holiday season whenever it comes (as we celebrate on different days), and that 2020 will be a year of joy, health and prosperity for you. Many of you will spend your Christmas with patients and families. This can be a challenging time for those of us working in palliative care and it is important to make sure you find time and space for yourselves and your families in the celebrations ahead.
I cannot end without thanking Julie, Avril, Eleanor, Cathy and Claudia, our Board of Directors old and new and our colleagues in the EAPC Research Network and the EAPC social media team. To all our member associations, our task forces and reference groups, and those who contribute to our blog, thank you for your continued support and engagement in EAPC activities. I am always reminded that you are the EAPC and its continued success is entirely dependent on you – our members and supporters.
So, on behalf of the EAPC, have a wonderful Christmas and our very best wishes to you all for 2020.
If you’re not already a member of the EAPC, please feel welcome to join us!
- Key benefits of individual and associate membership include:
- Networking with 60 National Associations and individual members from countries worldwide.
- 25 per cent discount on EAPC Congress registration.
- Weekly updates on latest topical issues for best practice in palliative care.
- Discounts on subscriptions to our two official journals, Palliative Medicine and Journal of Palliative Medicine.
- Opportunity to advertise your own palliative care events on our online calendar of events.
- Members only areas of the EAPC website where you can download a range of free publications.
- All current members of National Associations are invited to join the EAPC as an Associate Member for FREE.
- Read more on our membership page.
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