2017 National Conference

Sandy Muir and Agata Hribersek

Agata Hribersek and Sandy Muir, who attended the 2017 National Palliative Care conference in Adelaide

National Palliative Care Conference: An ‘Ideas Generator’

Report by Sandy Muir, Support Officer Grief and Loss

Advancing palliative care and the place of community support were central themes of the 2017 Adelaide conference that HVST volunteer Agata Hribersek and I were fortunate enough to attend.

We were among 800 plus national and international delegates at the conference last October with Agata awarded the Hospice Volunteers Scholarship opportunity to join me.

There were several central take home messages from the ‘Connection with Community’ themed conference, which was skilfully and sensitively chaired by ABC TV’s Virginia Trioli.

The underpinning theme of the three-day conference was that we can achieve integrated end of life care if we work smarter, together. Contributors to the conversation came from across the globe, and represented a number of professional areas, and included:

  • Aged care provider, Hammond Care, who spoke of their research on the effectiveness of music in elevating mood and immunity, and successfully managing pain;
  • palliative care knowledge network CareSearch, who introduced their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge Hub designed to support the healthcare workforce to provide culturally responsive and relevant palliative care;
  • international key-note speaker and palliative care and bereavement educator Liese Groot-Alberts, who painted a passionate picture of our individual capacities to facilitate healing and resilience in our families and communities, by turning our own experiences of loss into tools to enable us to connect and share with others; and
  • the collaborative study between the Australian Catholic University and Calvary Heath Care highlighting the positive impact of family and clinical meetings on family groups experiencing distress and feelings of disconnection from the care system.

My favourite presentation was Libby Moloney’s session about the people of the Macedon Ranges, area, Victoria. They created a community not-for-profit ‘It Takes A Village Compassionate unities Inc’ which supports and resources their whole-of-community network approach to supporting and facilitating a safe, comfortable and individually relevant experience of end of life.

This extraordinary community supports their palliative colleagues, their families and their friends, from diagnosis through to death, providing information about the processes of dying, and understanding grief. It offers options for coordinated support which might include connecting community members to provide transporting kids to and from school, putting together a roster for cooking and delivering meals, or arranging community based hospice care. Libby shared with us an extraordinary and inspiring example of how ordinary people can play a critical role in being a truly connected community at a time in our lives when our worlds can feel suddenly contracted and we can become incredibly isolated from others around us. Her generosity of spirit and expertise, backed up by a palpable grounded-ness was extraordinarily humbling and inspiring at the same time.

The next PCA conference is scheduled for 10 September 2019 to 13 September 2019 at the Perth Convention Centre.

For more information:

Palliative Care Australia: palliativecare.org.au

Libby Moloney – It Takes a Village: search you tube for libby moloney – it takes a village; naturalgrace.com.au.

Conference panel discussion – Our reluctance to discuss death – http://palliativecare.org.au/panel-discusses-fallout