#COSA17: #PalliativeCare reflections on the 44th Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting

Circular Quay

Despite being a Melburnian, I must admit that Sydney really is an irresistibly beautiful city when the sun comes out, especially by the water. The 44th Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) Annual Scientific Meeting was held in the newly renovated International Convention Centre in Sydney between 12-15th November 2017. With the sunlight streaming in through its many windows, reflecting off the waters of Darling Harbour, it really was the perfect place to be at the beginning of summer.

I attended the pre-conference workshop on cancer supportive care, which was organised by Judith Lacey, a palliative medicine specialist at Chris O’Brien LIfehouse. The whole-day workshop featured an interesting mixture of passionate speakers promoting a range of complementary treatments including medicinal cannabis, massage and probiotics; alongside others examining the evidence base for acupuncture, reviewing current clinical trials and prescribing pathways, and comparing different funding models for supportive care. It was a long but worthwhile day that set the mood for the rest of the conference.  Continue reading

New Zealand wins (again)

I have to confess I am a fan of the New Zealand health system from across the ditch. Sensible spending. strong palliative care health service connections… am I wrong Bro?

This article has not succeeded in reversing my bias in favour of New Zealand.

Palliative data nerds will no doubt recall this  fascinating study in Scotland by Professor Clark et al.  Published in Palliative Medicine, and quickly attaining the journal’s highest-ever Altmetrics score (1) , Clark showed that among 10,743 inpatients in 25 Scottish teaching and general hospitals on 31 March 2010,  3,098 (28.8%) patients died during the one-year follow-up period. The findings were replicated in 2013 with similar results.

The study by the fabulous  Professor  Merryn Gott et al showed that on the same date, the corresponding figure in New Zealand (including obstetrics) was about half at 14.5%. Patients at higher risk of dying were the elderly of over 80 years of age, Maori, those with cancer, those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, and those admitted under medical specialties rather than surgical.

New Zealand seems to provide better end of life care outside the hospital setting, with stronger end-of-life care in the aged care setting. This has certainly been a focus for service development in Australia as well.

How would we rate in Australia I wonder?

I would love to hear from international colleagues

Ref (1)  https://www.gla.ac.uk/research/az/endoflifestudies/projects/imminence/

Sonia

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

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PC clinician open letter Final

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2017 – a global call for Universal Health Coverage and Palliative Care

Author: Kate Jackson, WHPCA

On 14 October, over 200 organisations around the world will raise their voices to celebrate World Hospice and Palliative Care Day and Voices for Hospices 2017.

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is a unified day of action to celebrate and support hospice and palliative care around the world. Voices for Hospices is a wave of concerts taking place on World Hospice and Palliative Care Day every two years.

The theme of this year’s World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is: Universal Health Coverage and Palliative Care: Don’t leave those suffering behind!

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Stop the horror(ible misrepresentation)

This short film released this week tells an awful story of a man and his family that is apparently based on true events. It is clear from the film that the man did NOT receive the best palliative care currently available.

The film concludes with a statement that people like the man depicted die in awful ways “[d]espite the best available palliative care”. This statement is at odds with the film, which depicts him NOT receiving “the best available palliative care”.

Why did the poor man NOT receive “the best available palliative care”? The film does not tell us why. The statement at the conclusion of the film does not tell us why. We are left to wonder why this poor man and his family did NOT receive “the best available palliative care” for their suffering.

This film is a powerful depiction of the suffering experienced by patients and their families when they do NOT receive “the best available palliative care”. This film about suffering and suboptimal palliative care should lead us to demand better access to “the best available palliative care” from our politicians.

You can watch the R-rated (suitable for persons aged 18 years and over) film here.

Research priorities in Australian adult palliative care

We at Palliverse support open dialogue between researchers, clinicians, policy-makers and the broader community as to how things are going and what are the priority areas for future work. Please see below a research opportunity which is relevant to researchers and clinicians working in Australian adult palliative care settings. Continue reading

‘Elder Abuse: A National Legal Response’ – Report from Australian Law Reform Commission

ElderRefugee

Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The United Nations, in their resolution 66/127, established June 15th as a global day, which aims to raise awareness about elder abuse as a global issue, ‘everybody’s business’ and one that will become of increasing importance as our global population ages.

Elder abuse is defined as ‘a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person’ (WHO). It can include physical, psychological, emotional, financial or sexual abuse, and neglect.

While palliative and end-of-life care is not solely an issue for older people, it is timely to remember that many people accessing palliative care are also ageing, and often experiencing issues associated with elderhood, including societal attitudes towards older people. Many of these issues can influence people’s access to support, social engagement, health services and the enjoyment of personal freedoms and decision-making rights, making this an area of direct relevance for palliative care.

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Advance care directives, palliative care, and euthanasia

respect

[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

Healthcare communication – A network for our region

Palliverse was lucky enough to be present for the excellent Teaching communication in Healthcare conference in Melbourne hosted by the Cancer Council Victoria last December.  At this conference multiple members of the European Association of Healthcare Communication including Jonathan Silverman and current president Evelyn Van Weel -Baumgarten joined local representatives of EACH Peter Martin and Megan Chiswell.
healthcomms
During the event the key message was of the importance of communication skills to be able to provide care that is patient-centred, empathetic, safe, ethical, efficient and high-quality.  Unlike many other clinical skills communication is also largely universal in that it is practiced by clinicians in all encounters.  Supporting communication skills education is therefore a critical way of improving the quality of care provided by our healthcare system.

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#ANZSPM16 tweet chat: the (hidden) cost of caring

anzspm16-cost-of-caring

A game changer at the recent Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative medicine 2016 Conference (#ANZSPM16) was Dr Merryn Gott’s plenary presentation on the hidden costs of caring. Little is known about the financial impact of caring for people at the end of life.

She detailed some powerful anecdotes, including the story of two sisters whose mother lay dying in a hospital. The cost of parking was prohibitive and the daughters took it in turns to sit in the car watching out for the parking inspector. When their mother died, only one of the daughters was there; the other was in the car. Continue reading