Paediatric palliative care community united in support for children, young people, families, and each other 

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Paediatric palliative care community united in support for children, young people, families, and each other

Families share their paediatric palliative care experience at APPCC.

The inaugural Australian Paediatric Palliative Care Conference (APPCC) has laid out a clear agenda to support the critical work of the sector and the children, young people, and families in their care. 

Held online over two days (13 & 14 October 2022), APPCC attracted close to 350 delegates from around Australia and around the globe – including New Zealand, Singapore, and Saudi Arabi. 

“There is so much to take away from the conference,” says Camilla Rowland, CEO, Palliative Care Australia (PCA).  

“There was a sense of the very real determination of the sector to grow and deliver better care and better health systems for infants, children, and young people living with life limiting illnesses.”  

APPCC forms part of the Paediatric Palliative Care National Action Plan Project, a three-year partnership between PCA and Paediatric Palliative Care Australia and New Zealand, funded by the Australian Government. 

The program featured over 50 speakers, six workshops, and 25 plus posters around the theme ‘Listen, Learn, Lead.’ 

“This was the first-time health professionals who work in this challenging space had come together nationally, so it was a real moment in time, and a chance to recognise the skill and care of the nurses, doctors, allied health staff, and researchers who deliver this specialist care,” Ms Rowland says. 

“We are especially proud of the strong presence children, young people, families, and carers had during the conference – the voice of lived experience is a deep resource to tap into when you are seeking reform. 

“We heard about the power and importance of culture in people’s end of life experience, the need for better communication within health structures and with families, the importance of self-care for health professionals who carry a huge emotional load, the need to upskill and grow the workforce, and the value of child-focused hospice services. 

“The next key milestone for the Project is the delivery of the Action Plan itself which is on track to be finalised soon following extensive consultation with families and the paediatric palliative care sector.  

“The conference lights a fire under the Action Plan, which points to solutions and resources that seek to address the needs identified and echoed by speakers and delegates over the two days.” 

The Paediatric Palliative Care National Action Plan will include measures that: 

  • Increase knowledge of paediatric palliative care services and identifies where services are needed
  • Improve support and information resources for parents and children with a life limiting condition, as well as the paediatric palliative care workforce
  • Enhance practical assistance to children with high medical needs and life limiting conditions by coordinating a national approach 

“PCA and our Member Organisations will consider what we have heard and learnt at the conference and apply it in our ongoing discussions with the Government about funding and the implementation of the National Action Plan”, Ms Rowland says. 

“There are also learnings we can share with other sectors such as oncology, mental health, the child, youth and family sector, carers, and of course the disability sector.  

“And I’d like to think that we have just added 350 extra voices to our advocacy network when it comes to making the Action Plan a reality.  

“What is clear is that the palliative care sector is full of courageous, dedicated health practitioners who are bringing innovation and quality to the care of children, young people, and families, while balancing the need for sustainability – we are in good hands and we need to back them in.”  

The Australian Paediatric Palliative Care Conference was supported by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, Quality of Care Collaboration Australia (QuoCCA), and PalCare. 

Videos from APPCC will be available on the Paediatric Palliative Care National Action Plan Project website, and the Palliative Care Australia website, subscribe to the PCA eNewsletter to stay up to date.   

Tuesday, 18 October 2022