There promises to be a lively buzz as hundreds of participants share ideas, practice examples and research linked to the conference’s five themes:
- building public policies that support health
- creating participatory community partnerships
- strengthening sustainable community partnerships
- evaluation and performance
- reorienting/engaging environments to be responsive to death, dying, loss and bereavement.
Titled ‘Palliative Care IS Public Health: Principles to Practice’ the conference runs from 17 to 20 September 2017. Although this might seem a long way off, the deadline for anyone wanting to submit abstracts for presentations, posters or workshops is fast looming – these must be in by 24 October 2016.
With a growing body of people around the world exploring public health approaches to end of life care, this conference should be an excellent opportunity for those from UK hospices, and the organisations with whom they are collaborating, to share, learn and network internationally.
Public health approaches to end of life care
In the UK, we are seeing growing interest and momentum in these areas of work. More hospices are creating roles whose focus is on community development and engagement, building local networks and working with others to create new ways to support people experiencing death, dying and loss, outside the structures of formal care services.
Increasingly, hospices are recognising that public health approaches have a crucial part to play in enabling as many people as possible to have the care and support they need when facing death or bereavement.
Last July, at a conference at St Christopher’s Hospice, two key documents were launched. The first reports the evaluation findings from eight pathfinder schemes in Birmingham, Cheshire, Dorset, Hackney, Hull and East Riding, Lancaster, Liverpool and Somerset. Each of these schemes explored different ways to strengthen local capacity, drawing on the Dying well community charter to develop compassionate communities.
The evaluation found that each pathfinder project had had to negotiate local challenges but had found ways to achieve progress: all had increased community engagement and raised the profile of end of life care locally, and some could also demonstrate evidence of successful capacity-building with specific communities. All concluded that lack of resourcing was a limiting factor on their ability to kickstart change.
The second document launched in July was new guidance called Each community is prepared to help. Taking its title from ambition six of the Ambitions for palliative and end of life care, it provides a wealth of advice and practical suggestions for individuals and organisations wanting to build partnerships and strengthen supportive networks in neighbourhoods, schools, workplaces and indeed anywhere where people can support each other through dying, death and loss.
The whole document is of interest to hospices, especially the chapter dedicated to how hospices can adopt community development and public health approaches within their work.
I’m sure there will be many people from the UK interested in attending this conference; some scholarships are available. Abstract guidelines, scholarship information, and programme and registration details are available on the conference website or Facebook page. And don’t forget to get your abstracts in before 24 October!
You can read about the 4th International Public Health and Palliative Care conference, held in Bristol in May 2015, on the international edition of ehospice.