Palliative care and dementia – conference September 27th

Though advanced Dementia is a debilitating condition necessitating the management of a range of complex symptoms similar to that of patients in the terminal phase of malignant disease the provision of palliative care to dementia patients has (until recently) been inconsistent or poor.

In 2008 the Irish Hospice Foundation published ‘Palliative care for all; integrating palliative care into disease management frameworks‘ which was part of the extending access investigation aiming to extend palliative care provision beyond cancer to other chronic, life limiting diseases (like Dementia).

Following on from recommendations of the report action research projects are currently underway exploring the provision of palliative care to patients with advanced respiratory disease, heart failure and advanced dementia.

The advanced dementia action research project which operates in conjunction with Clare Mental Health Services and Milford Care Centre will explore and present on the issues in delivering palliative care to dementia patients in a one day conference on September 27th. The conference titled ‘Palliative care & dementia; seeking a platform for consensus’ will provide input on; delivering palliative care to dementia patients, developing a dementia care strategy, findings from the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland’s open conversation project and outcomes from the dementia palliative care project to date.

Further details, contacts and booking information are available HERE – Palliative Care Conference 

The conference is aimed at healthcare professionals working in elder care, palliative care, mental health services as well as primary and social care professionals.

Palliative care as a human right

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers palliative care an essential component of cancer care. Despite this millions of patients with end stage cancer, HIV and other terminal conditions are unable to access palliative care or adequate pain medication in their final days.

Human Rights Watch has this month released a report detailing barriers in  accessing palliative care and pain relief.  The report ‘Global state of pain treatment‘ is the result of detailed survey of 192 countries carried out through 2009 and 2010. Their findings indicate that despite the adoption of the 1961 Single convention on narcotic drugs strict control of opiates in many developing countries combined with inadequate training of medical staff in pain management results in many terminal patients suffering unnecessarily. Less than 1% of patients reporting moderate to severe pain in the terminal phase of illness had access to sufficiently strong medication. The report also indicated that despite WHO recommendations, 30 of the surveyed countries did not have an official palliative care policy.

Some encouraging progress was noted with countries like Uganda, Colombia and Vietnam making significant forward strides in the integration of palliative care services and provision of opiates to terminal patients.

The full report can be downloaded HERE  and pages 56-57 illustrates data on the provision of opiates and percentage of terminal patients per European Country.

National Council of the Forum on End of Life – Annual Forum October 12th

One can survive everything nowadays, except death…‘ Oscar Wilde

Following on from its extensive public consultation during 2009 and 2010 which culminated in the publication of ‘Perspectives on End-of-Life; report of  the forum‘ the Irish Hospice Foundation’s National Council of the Forum on End-of-life in Ireland was established in July 2010 and is now engaged in a work plan based on the public consultation. Their work plan identifies a number of areas for action and among other initiatives they are currently engaged in addressing the lack of regulation in the Irish funeral industry, more details of this are available HERE 

The range of activities of the National Council of the Forum will be brought together under the theme of ‘Resilience’ at their annual seminar to be held on October 12th in Croke Park.

The annual forum will see the formal launch of the ‘Think ahead’ project, by an Taoiseach Enda Kenny. The ‘Think ahead’ initiative aims to instigate communications about end-of-life wishes and preferences in the event of serious illness or death. The programme of talks and workshops for the forum cover a broad spectrum of perspectives on death and dying including a workshop on the Medicalisation of dying by Professor Aidan Halligan (former Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England) and the Mary Holland Commemorative lecture will be delivered by author & foreign correspondent Conor O’ Cleary.

The event aims to engage participants from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines in examining the challenges of achieving a good death.

The full programme for the forum along with booking details are available HERE