World Hospice and Palliative Care Day (WHPCD) was established in 2005 and has since become one of palliative care’s most significant global days. Each year a different theme is chosen to emphasise an aspect of palliative care that people may not know about or that is relevant to current events. We’re delighted to be joined today by Dr Stephen R Connor, PhD, Executive Director Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA), to tell us more about WHPCD 2022 and its call to action.
World Hospice and Palliative Care Day occurs every second Saturday in October each year. A unified day of action to celebrate and support hospice and palliative care around the world. The first WHPCD was in 2005 in conjunction with Voices for Hospice. WHPCA manages WHPCD for the international palliative care community. For 2022 the theme is ‘Healing Hearts and Communities’, recognising that the experience of grief and the need to heal unites humans worldwide, and that working together to build compassionate community support is essential to the quality of life that all people deserve. The global COVID-19 pandemic and conflicts around the world demonstrate the need for a greater recognition of the importance of palliative care as well as the essential role of Compassionate Communities to support the bereaved worldwide. The Compassionate Community movement is a growing initiative to develop communities that want to ensure that those with serious illness, the dying, and bereaved receive the support they need.
Each year over sixty million people die on our planet. Recent research found that an average of nine people grieve for each death, which is more than five hundred million bereaved annually. For each death an average of sixteen people attend a funeral or memorial: that’s over one billion people each year attending a service. The scale of grieving worldwide is enormous, yet societies tend to marginalise the bereaved, rather than provide extra layers of support.
WHPCA, representing over four hundred palliative care organisations in over one hundred countries, issues the following call for action:
1) All governments to commit to developing national grief strategies to identify gaps, best practices, and priorities by 2030.
2) National grief strategies should include evidence-based public health measures, best practices for organisations and healthcare providers, and community consultation.
3) Serious illness, grief and bereavement are costly, resulting in bankruptcy for many around the world. The average cost for a funeral in America is over $12,700. Sustainable funding for a public health approach to support the wide-ranging consequences of bereavement, including mental health support, is essential to the wellbeing of people and makes good economic sense.
4) Grief and bereavement affect everyone, yet many people aren’t comfortable with these conversations. National strategies must include approaches such as public awareness campaigns; use of advance care planning; an annual national day in memory of those who have died; healthcare provider education on grieving (to increase understanding of grief) and healthy coping strategies to build the capacity of individuals and communities to support the grieving.
Hospice and palliative care programmes are the only health care provider that routinely provides care and support for bereaved families following a death. Please join the international palliative care community in holding an event this year on or around WHPCD that celebrates hospice and palliative care and register your event here. We know there is much to be done to ‘heal hearts and communities’ after bereavement, but your events to showcase what is happening locally and why such care and support is important, can make a real difference.
Links and resources
- Find out more about World Hospice and Palliative Care Day and Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance. Follow on Twitter: @WorldHospiceDay @whpca.
- Register an event for WHPCD 2022 here.
- Ready more about Compassionate Community movement here.
- For other EAPC blogs about bereavement, including one on ‘the interconnected nature of living, caring, dying, and grieving’ which forms the basis of the Lancet Commission on the Value of Death, click here.
About the author
Dr Stephen R Connor, PhD, is Executive Director Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA). He has worked in the hospice/palliative care movement since 1975 including 10 years as vice-president of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (US). In addition to being a hospice and association executive, he is a health services researcher, educator, advocate, and psychotherapist, licensed as a clinical psychologist. Twitter @srconnor.
SAVE THE DATE! EAPC 18th World Congress 15-17th June 2023. Find out more here.