Sustaining Palliative Care Services​ in the Covid-19 Pandemic: Outcomes from the Leadership Day 2021

In October 2021, the European Palliative Care Academy (EUPCA) and the Leadership Development Initiative (LDI) held their second Leadership Day as part of the 17th World Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC). Chaired by Professor Frank Ferris (LDI) and Dr Gerrit Frerich (EUPCA), the session explored the importance of trust in times of uncertainty. Gerrit Frerich explains.

Left to right: Co-chairs: Professor Frank Ferris (Leadership Development Initiative) and Dr Gerrit Frerich (EUPCA); Professor Charles F von Gunten (keynote speaker).

The Corona pandemic has challenged healthcare providers all over the world and still does. But following Winston Churchill’s advice, “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” eight alumni of the EUPCA and LDI courses met for an experiential exchange on ‘Sustaining Palliative Care Services​ in the Covid-19 Pandemic’.

Keynote speaker Professor Charles F von Gunten set the tone with ‘Leadership for Sustainability’ by stressing the need for leaders to put themselves in the patient’s situation and to connect with them by showing genuine interest.

Regional and international cooperation

Dr Ladislav Kabelka from the Czech Republic discussed the regional leadership challenge to sustain early integration of palliative care. Preparation is the key; in crisis, you definitely benefit from well-developed systems and established collaborations.

Professor Mark Boughey from Australia pointed out the benefits of improved relationships between organisations, and how leaders can drive forward their work and their team through networking. Because of social distancing rules, Dr Georg Bollig from Denmark shared how he mastered the transition of his ‘Last Aid’ courses to an online format. The new format was highly successful, attracting more young participants than ever before!

Advocacy and pushing forward despite limitations

Rumana Dowla from Bangladesh focused on advocacy skills. Building relationships with stakeholders and educating policymakers and the public were essential. Being the voice for the voiceless, the purpose of advocacy is to ensure that ​no one is left behind.

Dr Farzana Khan from Bangladesh leads a palliative care project for refugees in humanitarian camps. In these camps, 73 per cent of people with chronic diseases do not receive treatment, and more than 90 per cent of caregivers do not have any formal training. Through tireless advocacy, she engaged stakeholders and recruited volunteer trainers to improve the situation massively.

Teamwork, trust and communication   

Dr Zuzana Křemenová from the Czech Republic described hardships during the early stages of the pandemic when the team was not yet well-attuned and faced communication problems. Through building trust, they ultimately managed the high workload and learned to practise self-care and support each other.

Professor Shoba Nair from India shared her experience with their leadership initiative to sustain clinical care. In particular, leadership skills such as collective decision-making and conflict resolution, and also networking and celebrating success, came into play.

Marius Čiurlionis from Lithuania focused on information dissemination. Thanks to regional cooperation and efficiently transferring patients the overburdening of hospitals was avoided. Building trust and sending the right message was essential, he concluded.

View the presentations on the webpage of the EAPC Task Force on Leadership in Palliative Care

These outstanding stories captured the imagination of 60 participants from across the world. You can now view the video presentations on the webpage of the EAPC Task Force on Leadership in Palliative Care.

We thank all the speakers and participants and look forward to the next Leadership Day! Keep tuned via our website ( and follow @EAPCvzw.

Links and resources


This entry was posted in 17th EAPC World Congress, Coronavirus and palliative care, EAPC COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS, EAPC Task Forces/Reference Groups, European Palliative Care Academy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.