IAHPC Traveling Scholars' Reports
A report by Juliano Ferreira Arcuri (Brazil)
My travel described below was an incredible experience. It was my first time outside Brazil and was a great opportunity to improve my English and to learn about other cultures.
During this trip to Europe I visited the International Observatory of End-of-life Care, in Lancaster, United Kingdom. There I was able to meet other researchers in palliative care and discuss the evolution of the field and what we’re doing in Brazil at the Américo Brasiliense State Hospital. As part of this visit, I was able to visit a local hospice where I spoke with a physical therapy colleague. This visit was a great opportunity to meet other researchers, health professionals and to see a hospice facility which isn’t common in Brazil.
The 7th World Research Congress of EAPC was a very important event in my professional improvement. During this event, I was able to hear presentations about subjects like pain classification, cachexia, and palliative care in dementia that are important to the development of our new palliative care ward and specifically how to create various protocols. My contacts will be very important since palliative care literature is particularly scarce and our primary resources of information are professionals who have more experience than we.
Physical therapy isn't a common profession in our palliative care units, and research about how the profession can be of assistance is scarce. There was little about this topic during the congress, but the discussion about the needs of patients and the importance of the development of new resources to approach them pointed to a lot of opportunities for research since physiotherapists have a large number of modalities to help them. Electrostimulation, phototherapy, massage and exercise may improve the quality of life in conjunction with, and sometimes without, the need for pharmacotherapy.
I also travelled to Trondheim, Norway to attend the World Research Congress of European Association of Palliative Care. This congress covered the advances in scientific knowledge in palliative care in Europe and was extremely informative. I was also able to hear various points of view about caregiver support, pain classification, cachexia and subjects important to starting a new palliative care service. I also was able to meet researchers from the continent and to discuss their work and learn about the reality of the problems and barriers they face which will help me foresee what may lie ahead in my own country as we develop palliative care.
The travel was an excellent beginning of my education as a palliative care professional, and I wish to thank IAHPC for this opportunity. I would like to thank everyone that helped me improve my knowledge in palliative care, and to the Hospital Estadual América Brasiliense for allowing, and incentivizing, me to pursue this opportunity.
Juliano Ferreira Arcuri, MD
Sao Carlos, Brazil.
A report by Janet Stanford (UK)
Report on 7th World Research Congress of the European Association of Palliative Care, Trondheim 7-9 June 2012.
I was honoured to be able to attend this congress in order to present a poster and learn from the presentations and posters of colleagues. I am grateful for travel grants from the Hospice Palliative Care Association for South Africa (HPCA) and IAHPC which made this possible.
The city of Trondheim is beautiful and was ringed with snow-capped mountains. Despite almost 24 hours of daylight, it was quite chilly. The venue was well organised and the logistics well managed. It was refreshing to see evidence of cost saving with no lavish expenditures obvious. There was an impressive presence of the local organising committee’s friendly and efficient volunteers. We were treated to 2 musical events which showcased the world class musical talent of Trondheim - an opening concert by the Trondheim symphony orchestra and a concert in the Nidarosdomen cathedral.
The 3 day programme had 4 parallel sessions, so one was faced with difficult choices. With 470 posters, it was difficult to appreciate all the high quality research which had gone into them, or to engage the researchers. Some posters were accompanied by flyers that allowed one to digest the information later.
It was interesting to note that many participants faced similar problems with late patient referrals as well as resistance to referral by physicians, families and patients. Eduardo Bruera noted that a change in terminology from palliative to supportive care resulted in an increase in referrals and earlier referrals to his program. There was a lively discussion about the preferred place of care and the needs of family/informal caregivers.
There was very little research presented from less developed countries, so it was gratifying that the first prize in the Early Researcher Award was presented to Lucy Selman from King’s College who conducted her PhD field work in South Africa and Uganda. Her research was titled “How do we measure spiritual outcomes? Lessons from exploring the construct of peace in an African setting,” see: http://www.eapcnet.eu/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=Hdt91Dwj7lo%3D&tabid=1817
The experience of attending this conference affirmed my sense that we are all grappling with similar issues in the field of palliative care and that sharing information through congresses, publications and exchanges enriches the quality of care and the palliative care community.
Sincere thanks to my travel grant sponsors for a truly memorable and enriching experience.
Janet Stanford, MD.
Medical Director and Chief Executive
Knysna, Western Cape, South Africa
IAHPC - Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund’s Traveling Scholar's Interim Report
Uncovering Palliative Care
by Marlene Vermaak (South Africa)
As a private practice dietician, I have been working in the oncology unit of a private hospital in Pretoria for 16 years. This was a field of medicine that I didn’t know existed when I started private practice years ago.
I have come to realize that pain is a universal language, spoken by all patients suffering from a terminal or life limiting illness, irrespective of age, gender, culture or spiritual beliefs. It has always been extremely important to me that patients are treated as unique human beings and not numbers.
Managing the nutritional needs of cancer patients during the various stages of their illness is challenging, and can be extremely rewarding. The importance of working in a multidisciplinary team in which the various disciplines work together for the best interest of a patient is invaluable.
Three years ago, I actively started searching for a post graduate course that includes a multidisciplinary team. With regards to my own profession, I knew where the boundaries of my scope of practice lie, but I had many uncertainties regarding the larger picture of palliative care. A colleague mentioned the Postgraduate Diploma in Palliative Care at the University of Cape Town. I applied for the course, as well as for a grant from the IAHPC, knowing that without financial aid, I would never be able to manage my studies as well as a private practice.
Receiving the financial aid from the IAHPC was absolutely wonderful. When I came back from Cape Town in January this year, after the first semester’s lectures, I knew that I finally found a way to learn the finer skills of palliative care. After 6 months, I have grown in my own profession as well as in my personal life. Many years of practical knowledge are starting to fall into place -- this is only the beginning. I am looking forward to the second semester lectures. I am privileged to have been able to learn from experienced lecturers that share a common vision of contributing towards our patient’s lives in a meaningful way.
I would like to thank the IAHPC for giving me this opportunity to study. Without their support I would not be able to live my dream.
Life - Little Company of Mary Hospital
Groenkloof, Pretoria, South Africa