Healing through compassionate leading in Spain: New president for SECPAL

As a membership organisation, the European Association for Palliative Care is proud of its strong relationship with its members, both member associations and individual members, across Europe and beyond. Today, we’ve invited newly elected president, Dr JP Leiva, to introduce himself and his organisation – the Spanish Society for Palliative Care (SECPAL).

Dr JP Leiva (top left) with members of the SECPAL Board of Directors.

Becoming President of the Spanish Society for Palliative Care (Sociedad Española de Cuidados Paliativos – SECPAL) is a title I assume with great honour and humility. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and our organisation.

I am a specialist in Family and Community Medicine and a member of the team that pioneered the development of renal palliative care in Spain. I currently work on the Spanish island of Mallorca in the Support and Palliative Care Team at Manacor Hospital.

As a physician, I am a graduate of the European Palliative Care Academy (EUPCA) to whom I’m thankful for helping to put me on the path of leadership in the palliative care community. I am rooted in the belief that palliative care is a strategic key to the humanisation of health, a challenge that, in the past year, has become urgently necessary. I am also keenly interested in identifying opportunities offered by new technologies, design, and the virtual world that have made their way into our lives.

The Spanish branch of the palliative care community is represented by SECPAL, which brings together more than 2,000 professionals in the comprehensive care of people with advanced diseases, limited life prognosis, and all those committed to palliative care. I would say our defining characteristics are optimism, teamwork, solidarity, trust and collaboration. Central to our mission is the promotion of a strategy focused on securing the accreditation of the professional competencies, which is an urgent need in Spain. In Spain, palliative care as a specialty is not yet officially recognised. Yet, as we know, this is one of the key elements for the development of palliative care in pre- and post-graduate curricula. Improving equity in the access of palliative care in Spain encourages us to develop new alliances and partnerships.

The coronavirus pandemic has made us aware of the need for healing among the palliative care community; one of the ways we can achieve this is through a collaborative and compassionate leadership, and through taking care of our teams. This unprecedented circumstance has inspired SECPAL’s board to find innovative ways for improving professionals’ self-care and self-compassion. Our ‘XIV Jornada  SECPAL’ will specially focus on nurturing self-care and self-compassion. Directed by Dr Manuel Castillo Padrón (an alumni of EUPCA and a member of our board), the study days will be offered virtually during four weeks in October 2021, allowing participants from across the Spanish-speaking world to join us and learn together.

This may help to improve the resilience of professionals, teams and organisations which, in turn, should have a positive impact for patients and their families. The newly elected members of SECPAL’s Board are excited and are already working hard to welcome you at our study days. This will also give us the opportunity to keep in touch with colleagues until our annual conference takes place in Mallorca in 2022.

I have a special admiration for SECPAL, an organisation in which medicine and nursing converge in their various branches, as well as other equally important areas, for example, social work, psychology, ethics, spirituality, physiotherapy, pedagogy, volunteers and complementary therapies like music therapy. I am proud too of the devoted work that SECPAL has dedicated to Latin America’s palliative care community, and our quarterly journal, Medicina Paliativa, which has been bringing science closer to professionals since 1999.

This multidisciplinary approach makes SECPAL a natural ‘home’ for anyone working in palliative care, and we will work to make sure that it continues to faithfully welcome science, ethics, and the art of caring at the end of life.

Links and resources

FREE EAPC membership for members of SECPAL – or other national associations

Readers who are currently members of SECPAL (or any other national palliative care association that is a member of the EAPC) are invited to join the EAPC for free. Join or renew your membership here, and benefit from some great opportunities!

Apply, or nominate a colleague, for a 2021 EAPC Researcher Award Full details here. Prizewinners will present at the 11th EAPC World Research Congress Online.


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