Hundreds of palliative care professionals to meet at virtual conference

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Hundreds of palliative care professionals to meet at virtual conference

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on palliative care, the need for far greater investment in palliative care in aged care and paediatric palliative care are among some of the topics to be canvassed at the biennial 2021 Oceanic Palliative Care Conference, held virtually from 7-10 September. 

Palliative care remains on the periphery of health systems around the world, with issues of inequity of access, workforce shortages and lack of community awareness of what palliative care actually involves, continue to create challenges for the palliative care sector.

This year’s Conference theme, Invest Challenge Change, builds on the continuing global push to ensure that we build better, more resilient health systems better able to meet critical health care needs in normal circumstances and sufficiently resourced to meet needs during times of emergency and crisis. 

Because of the pressure palliative care professionals have been under since the pandemic began, PCA decided very early on that the Conference would be virtual. 

“The decision was made to provide certainty to the palliative care sector, and most importantly, to prioritise the health, safety and welfare of the people who work in the sector and the people they care for,” said Palliative Care Australia CEO Camilla Rowland. 

“From very early on in the pandemic we also felt there was a huge role for palliative care because we bring experience in dealing with complex health needs and balancing multiple decisions to optimise physical, social and spiritual care.” 

The virtual setting has been no barrier to building a rich and exciting program, and in fact allowed the Conference to be more accessible, particularly for those under COVID-19 travel restrictions and our friends beyond Australia’s shores. 

The Conference has been the pre-eminent event for all those passionate about palliative and end-of-life care, in Australia, New Zealand, and throughout the wider Oceanic region since the inaugural Australian National Hospice Palliative Care Conference in Adelaide, in September 1990. The flagship event is particularly important in 2021 as PCA celebrates its 30th year of influence, fostering and promoting the delivery of quality palliative care for all who need it, when and where they need it.  

The comprehensive Conference program recognises the breadth of palliative care and some of the significant issues to be tackled both in Australia and the region, such as the need for greater investment in palliative care, COVID-19’s impact on grief and bereavement and dealing with rapidly aging population and its impact on palliative care. 

The program will also focus on those who would particularly benefit from palliative care, with sessions on palliative care for children and the elderly; ground-breaking services and programs for marginalised communities, including the homeless, Indigenous Australians, asylum-seekers and LGBTQ+ communities; future investment needs; clinical practice; and international perspectives. 

Ms Rowland says that while holding a large-scale virtual event of this size presents logistical challenges, it has also afforded PCA with a unique opportunity to present new research and case studies about quality palliative and end-of-life care to a much broader Australian and international audience.  

“21OPCC will boast over 100 live presentations, five international presentations, ten workshops, five industry panel sessions, the National Palliative Care Awards ceremony and even a virtual Conference choir.” 

Ms Rowland says that likewise, the Conference’s extensive scholarship program is an extremely valuable investment in the palliative care workforce, and ensures the participation of practitioners, carers and volunteers who may not have had the opportunity to otherwise attend. 

“I wish to thank the Australian Government’s generous support in partnering with Palliative Care Australia to deliver a scholarship program that will see over 100 scholarship recipients attend this year’s Conference.” 

21OPCC also boasts strong support from its international partner organisations – Hospice NZ, the Asia Pacific Palliative Care Network, the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care, the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance, the European Association for Palliative Care, and Australasian Palliative Link International, as well as over 20 Conference sponsors. 

Acknowledging that valuable support, Ms Rowland says the Conference provides the opportunity to facilitate knowledge and skills transfer across the Oceanic Region and beyond, and invites anyone with an interest in palliative care to register for 21OPCC before 7 September. 

“The region shares a common goal to provide quality palliative care. Events such as the Oceanic Palliative Care Conference provide the sector the valuable opportunity to share that collective knowledge not just within the Oceanic region but to the rest of the world as well.”