An open letter to Victorians on #PalliativeCare #VAD #euthanasia

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PC clinician open letter Final

#CrazySocks4Docs on June 1st



Crazy Socks for Docs – by Dr Eric Levi @DrEricLevi

June 1st. #CrazySocks4Docs. But not just for Docs only. This day is for nurses, dentists, pharmacists, social workers, physiotherapists, psychologists, dietitians, speech pathologists, audiologists, respiratory therapists, anaesthesia techs, paramedics, medical students, veterinarians and all other specialties that work in the health care industry for patients. Continue reading

Advance care directives, palliative care, and euthanasia


[Image by Nick Youngson]

Why do palliative care people bang on about advance care planning all the time?

Well, when you break it all down, advance care planning is all about respect. Respecting the values, goals and preferences of the person making the plan. And palliative care is really big on respecting people’s preferences and values, especially when it comes to their end-of-life care.

Unfortunately, when it comes to respecting people’s choices around their health care, the law has been lagging behind. Existing laws around advance care plans and medical decision making are often confusing for patients and families, as well as their treating clinicians. Fortunately, this is all about to change in Victoria.  Continue reading

I think therefore I am/Palace of Care – Hospice New Zealand 2016 Conference Keynote Presentation

Hi everyone,

Here is a copy of my slides from the Keynote presentation that I made on 16/09/16 at the Hospice New Zealand 2016 Conference.

I was intentionally being provocative and I was purposefully trying to challenge the audience’s mindset with the material that I presented, as I believe that New Zealand Hospice/Palliative Care needs to be “shaken up,” if it is to remain relevant. Now it’s your turn, you have been warned…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am working on a version which will have clickable links, and also on a recorded live performance of the presentation. In the meantime the slides with comments have been loaded onto the Palliverse Instagram account.



Bill’s Story: “Bill United” as a Compassionate Community

Ahead of tonight’s #PallANZ Tweet Chat – we wanted to share here, the way Milford Care (In Ireland) so poignantly paint this picture of a Compassionate Community, through Bill’s Story – featuring his community “Bill United”

What would your story look like?

For more videos similar to this, visit:


Compassionate Communities: Another Perspective

In the lead up to this week’s #PallANZ Tweet Chat with @PCACEO
and @Palliverse, we are once again very fortunate to feature the
contribution of an international guest – with Dr. Emilio Herrera (@emiliohm)
President of NewHealth Foundation, sharing with us insights from his experience
in developing compassionate communities across Spain and Latin America.


Dr Emilio Herrera

Dr. Herrera is President of NewHealth Foundation (NHF), a non-profit Spanish institution which seeks to promote new models of health and social care integration; in particular, in the areas of advanced chronic illness and palliative care. He is an expert in palliative care, with long-standing experience in planning and implementing palliative care and integrated health and social care programmes in Spain and Latin America. In recognition of this work, he has received various national and international awards, including the 2015 international “Palliative Care Policy Development Award” from the European Journal of Palliative Care.
* Full Bio follows below


Currently in Australia to present a Keynote Address at the 2016 Palliative Care Victoria Conference (if you haven’t already – you should register now!), Dr Herrera very kindly gave his time to speak with us about our #PallANZ discussion this week on Compassionate Communities.

What is a compassionate community – and how is it relevant to hospice and palliative care?

It is a group of people who are able to mobilize to help others in their community who are facing a life-limiting illness, in order to promote well-being and alleviate their suffering.

This requires a cultural evolution and a return to moral principles and values:

It requires the understanding that the care of the people around us is everyone’s responsibility – beyond mere provision of public or private services. It requires continuing work in social awareness to promote general knowledge of how to act in these situations, and preferably, public and corporate policies that could facilitate all of this.

Initially the Hospice movement was closely linked to the community:

The Hospice itself represented a place where people received the necessary care in their last days of life, but also a place of participation for the patient´s families, friends and/or neighbours. Over the years, palliative care has often been medicalised and has lost much of its social character. However, as advocated by Dr. Libby Snallow, the interaction between Hospice and volunteer communities has been as long as its history.

In the years to come, the prevalence of chronic disease and disabilities will increase.  Almost 70% of the world population die after a period of chronic illness. Likewise, the number of family caregivers is declining. With these solid facts, neither the end of life or death can be understood as a failure of medicine—nor can high quality palliative care be offered without the active participation of the community.

What challenges must we overcome to promote compassionate communities?

  1. We have to be more humble. Our two principal barriers are inside ourselves: fear and ego. We must recognize that, as health care professionals, our training does not prepare us to help a community find its own solutions and shape its own future.

  2. We have to change our approach as a health system. In general, it is not easy to focus on the needs of individual people.  As Dr. Julian Abel stated in his “Circles of care”, the person at the centre should be supported by their more intimate community, and around both the patient and his/her inner community, the health and social care services should work like an integrated care system to offer the best of care.

  3. Society must return to recover the dignity of care:  the privilege of caring as opposed to the burden of caring.

  4. We have to design and implement methodologies to interact with the community that will require us to devote considerable time and resources. Implementation of the Compassionate Cities Charter developed by Professor Allan Kellehear and Dr. Julian Abel are a good starting point.

  5. The first challenge is to understand the paradigm of integrating health care, social care and direct participation of the community.

  6. We need to invest in order to achieve efficiency.   We need specific budgets to generate the necessary resources to stimulate the community. An important part of those budgets should come from the community itself and the private sector, not only the government.

  7. We need motivation from our best professionals. They are often tired after so much effort and many years of hard work without getting the expected results.

  8. We need first class social marketing.

  9. We need to align the active participation of different social stakeholders.

  10. We need to understand that empowering a community goes way beyond promoting volunteer organisations.  It involves a change of attitude in the society. This also needs to involve working from and with schools. 

In what ways can we build meaningful and effective partnerships between palliative care professionals and the broader community?

In general, we need to create a common social mission. This is much more than a recipe.

This involves working hard to create a different and involved society; to imagine a sustainable social model and restore the value of caring; to implement an enduring story, to create together a legacy that can grow, and to believe in our shared meaning as human beings.

Some tools and specific actions that can help to achieve these aims include:

  • Identifying and promoting good leadership among our experts and the public.
  • Making local maps of aligned initiatives and identifying stakeholders.
  • Networking.
  • Establishing commitments from and with organizations and institutions involved.
  • Recruiting collaborating centres.
  • Raising local financing.
  • Establishing agreements.
  • Designing local projects.
  • Raising awareness campaigns and offering training activities.
  • Designing and using agreed tools.
  • Evaluating the Project by sharing results and outcomes.

As part of Emilio’s work, the City of Seville is set to be recognised as one of the first ‘Compassionate Cities’ in the world, by Public Health Palliative Care International. You can read more about this achievement here. You might also be interested in reading ‘Compassion is the Key’ – where Emilio highlights ‘Compassion’ as the value that should be promoted to transform the healthcare model.

@Palliverse and @PCACEO are extremely grateful for the generosity of Dr Emilio Herrera in sharing his valuable insights with us. You can see Emilio present the Keynote Address at the Palliative Care Victoria Conference on Friday 29th July; Bayview Eden Hotel, Melbourne Australia. Register now!

* Dr Herrera’s background is in medicine, holding a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery and he is also a specialist in Family and Community Medicine. He continued specialising in palliative care and completed an internship in palliative care at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre Houston (USA), and at Edmonton (Canada). He also holds Master’s degrees in both Health Services Organization and Management, and Senior Management.

At present, the NHF is heavily involved in the development of palliative care programmes in Colombia. In Spain, it has also set up the Observatory of Integrated Care Models (OMIS) in order to identify and make visible, current experiences of health and social care coordination and integration, and to translate knowledge and create synergies. Finally, the NHF is developing the social movement Compassionate Communities and Cities through the setting up of the project “Todos Contigo” in several cities of Spain and Latin America.

Compassionate Communities: An International Perspective…

In the lead up to this week’s #PallANZ Tweet Chat with @PCACEO
and @Palliverse, we are very fortunate to feature the contribution
of Dr Heather Richardson, Joint Chief Executive,
St Christopher’s Hospice London
, sharing with us from her
experience, insights into building compassionate communities—
an international perspective from which we all can learn and benefit…


Dr Heather Richardson

Prior to her current role as Joint Chief Executive at St Christopher’s,
Dr Richardson held posts of National Clinical Lead for Help the Hospices,
and Strategy Advisor at St Joseph’s Hospice. She has a wealth of experience as a general, mental health, and palliative care nurse; and holds a Master’s degree in Health Management as well as a PhD.

In 2015, Dr Richardson was appointed an Honorary Professor of the International Observatory on End of Life Care at Lancaster University, and her work is featured in Compassionate Communities: Case Studies from Britain and Europe, edited by Klaus Wegleitner, Katharina Heimerl, and Allan Kellehear.


Dr Richardson is in Australia presenting a Keynote Address at the 2016 Palliative Care Victoria Conference (if you haven’t already – you should register now!), and she very kindly gave time from her busy schedule to speak with us about our #PallANZ discussion this week on Compassionate Communities:


So, what is a compassionate community – and how is it relevant to hospice and palliative care?

This is a great question and one that a number of us have been pondering in the UK. There is a growing belief amongst hospices and others that compassionate communities could help improve the experience of dying and loss in the UK. This change is a key aspiration on the part of hospices and other palliative care services.

Compassionate communities have a similar aim and it is this mutual ambition that makes compassionate communities relevant to hospice and palliative care. Most importantly hospices are increasingly realizing that even with the best will in the world they will never achieve the reach, their vision that death and bereavement is seen as part of life, and the improvements in care required without drawing on the energies, relationships and connections in communities.


What challenges then, must we overcome to promote compassionate communities?

These challenges are significant but there is real appetite on the part of many in the UK to overcome them. Research being undertaken by Sallnow in East London, currently unreported, confirms that individuals and communities who see themselves as the first members of a local compassionate community, highly value the contribution being made by their local hospice to support their efforts. This suggests that hospices do have a role to play, but there is no doubt that they will have to change the way they work if they are to be effective in promoting and supporting compassionate communities.

In particular they will need to review their approach to risk management, which can serve to constrain the potential contribution of volunteers. They will also need to consider carefully how individuals working as part of a compassionate community are described and positioned. To whom do they belong and have accountability? Are they similar or different to traditional hospice volunteers and is that term transferable? Thinking differently about training will also be necessary. Moving from a place where training focused on “doing things the hospice way” to helping people recognise and harness their own capacity and that of the community to which they belong is a significant shift.


In what ways can we build meaningful and effective partnerships between palliative care professionals and the broader community?

These partnerships will be vital if significant improvement in the experience of people who are dying or bereaved is to be achieved.

Hospices are in a privileged position in this respect. Many were conceived by the communities that they serve and enjoy prolonged and vital partnerships around fundraising and volunteers. If they can make the shift in mind-set from a professionally driven service to a community enabled network of mutual support around death, dying and loss they will be able to build on these relationships to the benefit of local people.

Hospices and other palliative care services are also well integrated into health and social care systems. With an open mind and a generous spirit, they could become part of a rich web of partnerships that draw together their staff and volunteers, statutory providers of health and social care, commissioners, policy makers, community development organisations and most importantly community leaders, members and groups. Their work together will be key to transforming care which for many is currently unsatisfactory and of an unacceptably poor quality.


SO, dear readers, given that the UK is an international leader in building
compassionate communities, what can WE all LEARN from the UK experience?

Join us on Wednesday 27th July to share your thoughts during the #PallANZ Tweet Chat on Compassionate Communities.

@Palliverse and @PCACEO are extremely grateful for the generosity of Dr Heather Richardson in sharing her invaluable insights with us. You can see Heather present the Keynote Address at the Palliative Care Victoria Conference on Thursday 28th July; Bayview Eden Hotel, Melbourne Australia. Register now!