Giving voice for those in suffering

From the 18th to 20th October Romanian palliative care and hospice movement celebrated its 20th anniversary. To mark this significant effort professional caregivers all over Romania gathered in Poiana, Braşov. The meeting was put together of festive gala evening on Thursday night to recognise people who have worked hard to make the palliative care and hospice movement a success and of two-day conference on Friday and Saturday called “Giving voice for those in suffering”.

The scientific programme reflected well the multifarious field of palliative care. Speakers presented the newest medical developments, care needs in different population groups (prisoners, elderly, children, people with learning disabilities), improvements in policy making as well as challenges in integrating palliative care in other medical fields to improve patients’ and their caregivers quality of life. All presentations demonstrated the great dedication of people dealing with improving access to palliative care services. To mention few, Prof. John Smyth spoke about the relationship between supportive and palliative care in oncology. Dr. Alison Landon introduced the notion of emergencies in palliative care. Manuela Furdi and Dr. Dana Nagy discussed the theory and practise of communication. Prof. Julia Verne explored the research methodologies in palliative care research, demonstrating the culprits of research design, ethical challenges as well as incompetence in journal editors and reviewers when it comes to studies that make use of novel research methods. Dr. Daniela Moşiou introduced the ASCO Palliative Guidelines and ESMO recommendations for global oncology curriculum. Dr. Piret Paal discussed the upcoming EAPC White Paper on spiritual care competencies for palliative care specialists pointing out the current lack of spiritual leadership in healthcare management. Several presentations and workshops tackled the early outcomes of Erasmus+ EDUPALL Project that is to generate more awareness regarding palliative care among medical undergraduates across the Europe.

The conference made evident that in order to develop palliative care even further the integrated approach between practical work, research, policymaking, and philanthropy is essential. The core of palliative care is its humanistic philosophy that puts people in suffering in the centre of caregiving. To enable best possible care multiple skills and knowledge are needed. Also modern technology can support the development process, such as making use of well-designed electronic patient records (Dr. Aliki Tzerkezouglou) to improve symptom management, make advanced directives, and create big data to project future challenges.

The success story of Romanian palliative care is ongoing. Few days before the conference in Braşov the first hospice for children was opened near Bucharest. Romanian palliative care is a wonderful example of how dedicated people and hard work can make a great difference even if the resources are limited. It was a great honour to take part of this festive meeting.