On the 18th and 19th May 2023 two workshops were held at the Institute for Mother and Child Health of Serbia “Dr Vukan Čupić” (Institut za zdravstvenu zaštitu majke i deteta Srbije “dr Vukan Čupić) in Belgrade, Serbia. The workshops were organised as part of a collaboration between the , the Ministry of Health, Institute of Child Health, Tirshova and BELhospice, as part of an ongoing programme for the development of children’s palliative care in Serbia.
Children’s palliative care remains a relatively new concept in Serbia. A needs assessment was undertaken back in 2010 as part of the project ‘Development of Palliative Care Services in the Republic of Serbia’- EuropeAid/129769/C/SER/RS which was followed by some training in 2012 and 2013. More recently Belhospice recognised the need to expand their services to care for children needing palliative care and have set up a children’s palliative care service working in collaboration with the Institute of Child Health. Working with the Institute to expand access to children’s palliative care, a workshop was held on the 18th May for doctors and on the 19th May for Nurses.
The workshop for doctors was opened by Prof Dr Vladislav Vukomanovic, the National Co-ordinator for the Implementation of children’s palliative care at the Ministry of Health. He welcomed participants and introduced them to the concept of children’s palliative care, the range of children needing access to palliative care and the need in Serbia. Vera Madzgalj, the Chief Executive of BELhospice then talked about the work of the hospice, in particular in relation to children’s palliative care. There then followed a discussion on models of palliative care delivery, citing examples from Austria (Dr Zsofia Rona) and the role of the nurse in paediatric palliative care (Prof Julia Downing). Following a short break sessions were held on a range of topics pertinent to children’s palliative care including nutrition, respiratory symptoms, neurological symptoms, post-transplant, in the intensive care setting, for children in pain, and skin problems alongside issues around communication. At the end of the day there was a time for discussion and there was a lively discussion on different aspects of children’s palliative care prior to the close of the workshop.
Ljiljana Plavanski, Head nurse for the Institute of Child Health, alongside Vera Madzgalj, the Chief Executive of BELhospice, welcomed participants to the workshop, stressing the importance of children’s palliative care and the collaboration between the organisations. Dr Zsofia Rona again shared about the different models of children’s palliative care in Austria, and Prof Julia Downing discussed some of the principles of children’s palliative care, the range of children needing palliative care, and other key issues prior to discuss the role of the nurse in children’s palliative care. The rest of the workshop focused on clinical nursing issues such as nutrition, wound care, colostomy care, epilepsy and exploring the differences between adults and children’s palliative care.
Around 80 people attended the workshops over the two days from a range of hospitals and it was a key event in the ongoing development of and advocacy for children’s palliative care in Serbia.