Palliative care nursing: How the EAPC celebrated the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020

Today, Dr Julie Ling, CEO, European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) and PD Dr Piret Paal, Reader in Nursing Science (Palliative Care) and Deputy Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Nursing Research and Education at the Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg, Austria, reflect and pay tribute to the authors who participated in a special series to celebrate the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020.

Dr Julie Ling and PD Dr Piret Paal, series coordinators and contributors.

Although 2020 will be remembered as the year of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was also, importantly, the year that the nations of the world united to celebrate the benefits that nursing and midwifery bring to the health of the global population. The European Association for Palliative Care took this opportunity to celebrate the nursing contribution to palliative care through 12 very special monthly posts to honour the work of palliative care nurses. Ultimately, the advent of the global pandemic highlighted the innovative and important role of nurses working in palliative care and how they adapted their practice to make an important contribution.

When we planned the series of blogs to mark the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020, we could not have anticipated how important nurses and nursing would become during the global pandemic. The catalyst for the series was the planned global celebration of nursing, initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) at the 72nd World Health Assembly in recognition of the importance of nurses and midwives.

Over the past year, we have published blogs from nurses from around the globe covering a diverse range of topics. Each one offering a unique perspective on palliative care nursing and reflecting the evolution of nursing across the world.

Contributors (top row clockwise): Marius Čiurlionis, Rose Kiwanaku, Bart Cusveller, Bridget Johnston, Pablo Hernández-Marrero, Sandra Martins Pereira and Minna Hökkä.

Palliative care nurses and other healthcare professional colleagues have made a huge contribution in the fight against Covid-19. We acknowledge and pay our respects to the many healthcare colleagues who have lost their lives during the pandemic. According to the International Council of Nurses (ICN), more than 2,200 nurses globally have died, and more than 1.6 million healthcare workers have been infected by Covid-19.

The ICN has launched the countdown to International Nurses Day (IND 2021), which will be celebrated on 12 May 2021, with the theme “Nurses: A Voice to Lead – A Vision for Future Healthcare”. This coincides with a critical period in reshaping the WHO’s Global Strategic Directions for Nursing and Midwifery 2021-2025. We encourage all nurses working in palliative care to actively contribute to this strategy to ensure their voices are heard.

It has been a time like no other…

Throughout the pandemic those working in palliative care have been working closely with colleagues, sharing their experience and expertise in caring for complex symptoms and providing support at end of life.

Contributors: (left to right): Alexandra Mancini (Smith), Catherine Walshe, Anja Oustalet, Philip Larkin and Nicoleta Mitrea.

There was a plan that the very last post in our series on nurses would be written by Lord Nigel Crisp, Co-chair of Nursing Now, former Chief Executive of the NHS in England and Permanent Secretary of the UK Department of Health. Owing to ill-health, Lord Crisp was unable to contribute to the blog, but he did send this quote and we would like to leave the last words of this series to him.

“I have come to appreciate nursing and nurses even more in recent years when I have had the opportunity to see them working in many different countries and learn more about their work. Palliative care nursing exemplifies the remarkable qualities of the profession – the combination of care, compassion, knowledge and experience – and the ability to address the physical, mental, social and even spiritual aspects of a person’s health. I believe that nurses will continue to grow in profile and status in the years to come and play an even more influential role in health and wellbeing.”   Lord Nigel Crisp.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our contributors (pictured above) who each provided a very unique and personal account of their palliative nursing experience.

If you missed any of these blog posts, you can access them in the special category ‘International Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020’.

Contributors to the series 

Marius Čiurlionis: Lithuania – Head of Nursing, Palliative Medicine and Social Care Clinic, VšĮ Centro Poliklinika, Vilnius, and a founding member of the Baltic Palliative Care Association. Building the next generation of nursing leaders.

Dr Bart Cusveller PhD: The Netherlands – Associate Professor of Ethics and Spiritual Care in Nursing, Spiritual Care Research Institute, Academy of Health Care, Viaa Christian University of Applied Sciences Zwolle. Spiritual care requires spiritual care support: The link nurse.

Minna Hökkä: Finland – Research Unit of Nursing Science and Health Management, Medical Department, Oulu University, with Dr Sandra Martins Pereira PhD (Portugal) and Professor Pablo Hernández-Marrero (Portugal). Nursing competencies across different levels of palliative care provision: Highlighting the need for further research and international collaboration.  

Professor Bridget Johnston: Scotland, UK ­ – Florence Nightingale Foundation Clinical Professor of Nursing, University of Glasgow, and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde. How nursing history impacts on the modern day profession.

Rose Kiwanaku: Uganda – formerly Head of Education and Training, Hospice Africa Uganda, and founding Director of the Palliative Care Association of Uganda. Becoming the first palliative care nurse in Uganda. 

Dr Julie Ling: Ireland – (CEO EAPC) and PD Dr Piret Paal: Austria (Reader in Nursing Science (Palliative Care), and Deputy Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Nursing Research and Education at the Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg). Nurses are the bridge of health care: Celebrating the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020.

Professor Philip Larkin: Switzerland – Professor of Palliative Nursing, University of Lausanne. To comfort always: A message of inspiration for 21st century palliative care nurses.  

Alexandra Mancini (Smith), United Kingdom ­ – Pan London Lead Nurse for Neonatal Palliative Care at the Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, CW+ and the True Colours Trust, London. Palliative care for babies (neonates): Developing services

Dr Nicoleta Mitrea PhD: Romania – Director of Nursing Education and Development at HOSPICE Casa Sperantei and Senior Lecturer at University of Transilvania, Brasov. Are nurses becoming more influential in palliative care? A personal perspective from Romania.

Anja Oustalet: France – Nurse Manager in a pain and palliative care department in a public hospital in Paris. Nurses behind the scenes: The palliative care response to Covid-19 in Paris.

Professor Catherine Walshe: United Kingdom – Co-Director, International Observatory on End of Life Care, Lancaster University, and Editor-in-Chief of Palliative Medicine. Palliative care nursing and research: A call to arms to conduct nursing research.


International Council of Nurses (2021).

This entry was posted in International Year of Nurse & Midwife 2020, NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL REPORTS, Nursing. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Palliative care nursing: How the EAPC celebrated the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020

  1. This is John Williams from nursing care congress 2022

    The Organizing Committee is pleased to invite you to participate in the “29th World Congress on Nursing care” to be held on May 23-24, 2022, in Bangkok, Thailand, on the theme “Innovations in Nursing and Improving Health through Nursing Research”.

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