A special message from Professor Dr Christoph Ostgathe, President of the European Association for Palliative Care.
As the festive season approaches, we want to take this opportunity to wish you all a peaceful and healthy Christmas and a better year ahead.
Living in a changed world has been difficult for all of us. Many of you have been working on the front line delivering care to patients and their families during a time of unprecedented stress and pressure on often already stretched healthcare services. As with all challenges comes opportunity; there is no doubt that palliative care has been a key part of the response to Covid-19 and this is something that we, as a specialty, should be very proud of. The roles we take on are very variable; starting with support in symptom control of critically ill and dying patients with Covid, help in fostering communication (for example, when visits in the hospital are not allowed), support for relatives, and keeping palliative care running for patients without Covid.
The importance of not losing sight of the human being in the pandemic, apart from infection control, is shown in the words of a letter we received from a bereaved relative a few days ago.
“Despite the current visitor regulations due to the corona situation, you have allowed my mother to stay in my father’s room and to stand by him during his final moments. I was reassured to know that my father could take one last look at my mother during his last breath.”
This daughter may go into the time of mourning with a consoling image – but how different it would be if the mother had been denied the opportunity to be present in the room because of infection control. One role of palliative care in the pandemic is to safeguard the goal of dying well, which a pastor friend once formulated for himself as “To die as he was born, namely, not alone”.
Our 2020 congress planned for beautiful Palermo, Sicily instead took place as our very first online event. It was really well evaluated and we were very pleased that we were able to showcase a huge range of palliative care research from around the world. If you registered for the congress, you still have access to the platform and all the content until 31 January 2021. Maybe you will find time over the festive season to access the on-demand content, watch some of the great talks and view more than 500 posters! (Registered delegates should login here. Non-registrants can also access congress abstracts, selected sessions on the EAPC YouTube channel and a special series of congress articles on the EAPC blog).
A new year is coming and no doubt new challenges and opportunities for all of us lie ahead in 2021. The scientific committee for the 17th EAPC World Congress Online are already working hard on the programme for our next congress, which takes place 6 to 8 October 2021. Registration is now open. Abstract submission opens on 1 January 2021 until 14 February. We really look forward to receiving your abstracts and seeing as many of you as possible in October.
I would like to thank our head office staff, Julie, Avril, Bernadette, Cathy and Claudia, our Board of Directors, the EAPC Research Network, our colleagues in the EAPC Reference Groups and Task Forces, and members of the EAPC Social Media team, who all work so hard on behalf of the EAPC and palliative care in Europe. To all our member associations, thank you for your continued support and engagement in EAPC activities. We are a membership organisation and you are the EAPC; our continued success is entirely dependent on you, our members and supporters.
Many of you will spend your Christmas with patients and their families. This can be a challenging time for those of us working in palliative care. Wherever you are, we hope that you have time and space for yourselves, and to be with your family if restrictions in your country allow.
For now, I hope that as Christmas approaches, you will enjoy the holiday season whenever that is for you (we celebrate on different days), and that 2021 will be a year of an effective vaccine, joy, health and prosperity.
So, on behalf of the EAPC, have a wonderful Christmas and our very best wishes to you all for 2021.
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The EAPC blog will take a break over Christmas and New Year. Please join us again on Monday 4 January 2021.