By Marius Čiurlionis, Head of Nursing, Palliative Medicine and Social Care Clinic, VšĮ Centro Poliklinika, Vilnius, Lithuania, and a founding member of the Baltic Palliative Care Association. Marius explains how the Baltic Palliative Care Association is contributing to better understanding, higher standards and greater access to palliative care.
Last year, I wrote about how palliative care was developing in the Baltic States: the northeastern region of Europe that includes the countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. I took the opportunity to encourage readers to join us at the Baltic Palliative Care Association’s second annual conference, ‘Making Palliative Care Meaningful’, that was to be held in Lithuania in September. Many of you took up the invitation and we were delighted to welcome more than 200 participants who gathered to share experiences and good practice. They came from almost every continent – from Australia, Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States of America. The conference was held on 12 to 13 of September 2019 at Arkangelo Conference and Art Center, part of the former Bernardine Convent, situated in the very heart of Vilnius Old Town.
The conference focused on five significant themes: Nursing, Children’s palliative care, Management in palliative care, Pain control and Oncology. A variety of sessions allowed professionals to meet and discuss the latest findings and challenges they encounter in everyday work. The keynote speaker was Dr Julie Ling, Chief Executive Officer of the European Association for Palliative Care, followed by Piotr Krakowiak from Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland; Georg Bollig from the University of Southern Denmark; Malina Dumitrescu, Executive Director of Hospice Casa Sperantei, Romania, and many other leaders in palliative care.
The Second Baltic Palliative Care Conference enabled practitioners from all over the region to meet with like-minded people and build professional networks. It was a great way to meet new people in the same field from different geographical areas – Europe, United States, the Philippines and Australia and talk about the differences in the provision of palliative care services. And, like all conferences, it was a good place to re-connect with people in your field that you haven’t met for a while.
Comments from conference participants:
“The biggest opportunity for me was the ability to meet colleagues from neighbouring countries in person, and talk about our experiences. It allowed me to understand that we share similar issues and challenges.” (Social care worker in palliative care).
“It was really interesting to learn about subcutaneous botulinum toxin injections for pain treatment in Palliative Care – I hope that shortly we will be able to apply this procedure to our patients at home.” (A nurse working in a homecare department).
But as organisers, we felt, that the most appreciated part of the conference was the chance for people to present their ideas and this enabled great discussion about daily work and research.
The role of palliative care in the Baltics is changing rapidly. Palliative care is increasingly accepted as an essential component of comprehensive care. Yet, the integration process is often delayed or is not efficient or effective. One of the main reasons for this is an insufficient education process for healthcare professionals, family caregivers and patients. This is where the Baltic Palliative Care Association takes a role – providing education, knowledge and experience sharing to bring better understanding, higher standards and greater accessibility to palliative care.
Join us at the Third Baltic Palliative Care Conference
The Third Baltic Palliative Care Conference is planned for 10 to 11 September 2020 in Tallinn, Estonia – at a very unusual place, a former shipyard that has been transformed into a contemporary conference centre. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website where you can find more about the conference.
Please do consider joining us in Estonia later this year!