On Friday, May 20th, this spring’s most important conference is being co-hosted by Hospice Forum Norway and International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement (IWG), in partnership with Konferanseplassen, focusing on the future of end-of-life care and how we meet the subsequent grief of death.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that the road between life and death can be very short. All the restrictions implemented to reduce the spread of infection have led to isolation for many of our most vulnerable – having great consequences for the gravely ill and dying, not to mention their loved ones. Many may have experienced lonesomeness and heightened grief over being a relative of a seriously ill person or having lost a loved one without having had the opportunity to be present and provide good care on the way to death. A pandemic challenges the whole of society and is a state of emergency. We can perhaps allow ourselves to say that the pandemic has aided in a more open dialogue and many thoughts and shared reflections around life and death in that it has affected us so deeply. How would we like the experience to be when we eventually meet death? How would we, as loved ones, like to participate in the care of the dying person? And how do we think that we, as a society, should facilitate a good life until death?
Today, many die in hospitals and the intensity of treatments is both high and costly. With a larger proportion of elderly living longer, they are living out their days in care facilities, and dying there. There still aren’t many who die at home, or in other institutions, such as hospice. Tomorrow’s offer of palliative care must ensure the population with more freedom of choice in relation to where one would like to be the last part of life and where one wishes to die.
Perhaps the time is now to discuss how the care and palliative care for incurably sick and dying people should be organized and financed? Are there good models for systematic and beneficial collaboration with voluntary and non-profit organizations? How do we facilitate good and responsive interaction between the different levels of health services, the terminally ill, and their loved ones?
At the conference, we will get input from visionaries in the international community about these important themes and questions. Dr. Julian Abel, co-editor of the soon-to-be-released “Oxford Textbook of Public Health Palliative Care”, will speak about developing local communities where care for the dying and their families is a responsibility shared by many, above and beyond what the professional healthcare services can, and should, provide. His work focuses on how each, and everyone, of us can contribute when we experience death and grief – it is not just a matter for hospitals and care facilities, but for the entire community, including educational institutions, workplaces, religious communities, and neighborhoods. Dr. Abel will, in his keynote, show why and how the development of interaction in the local community has a positive effect on care for the dying, and their loved ones, as well as other important areas in the community. Through a joint effort from all service locations and levels, suffering and grief can be eased among the dying and their loved ones, as well as that of healthcare personnel in various health institutions.
In Norway, guidelines have been laid out for this work in the Parliamentary White Paper “Palliative Care – We Are All Going to Die One Day. But Every Other Day We Shall Live.” It describes a service that, until now, has not been sufficiently coherent nor characterized by the patient’s participation; a service that, in the future, will be characterized by a holistic approach, strengthened participation and increased competence so that everyone can have a dignified end to life in-line with their own wishes. This is precisely something that Hospice Forum Norway wants to contribute to with its voluntary work.
And what can we learn from each other? Knowledge and experiences both internationally and nationally will be highlighted at the conference on May 20, 2022 – take part and get smart!
It is possible to attend the conference both in-person and digitally. Click here for all the details and registration: https://www.konferanseplassen.no/arrangementer/sustainable-end-of-life-care-for-the-future