Globally, the need for hospice and hospice care has grown faster than people can access it.
This was the impetus behind the World Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA), which emerged from an October 8, 2005 meeting of health care leaders in South Korea. During these discussions, it became clear that a significant part of these leaders’ public health concerns involved end-of-life patients, according to WHPCA Executive Director Stephen Connor.
“That first gathering was a conclave of global health policy leaders, such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization, among various other bodies,” Connor told Hospice News. “We met because we recognized the fact that no one was really talking about palliative care and palliative care in the political arena. The WHPCA was then formed, and one of the first things we did was set aside a day for global recognition, because most of all the major health care issues in the world centered on what happening in the last years of life.
Shortly after its inception, the alliance established World Hospice and Palliative Care Day (WHPC) to raise awareness of serious illnesses and end-of-life care.
The celebration is now recognized on the second Saturday in October and features educational and fundraising events in nearly 70 countries. One of its main goals is to shed light on the care needs of patients and families and to educate them, as well as policy makers and clinicians, about all the options available.
A major barrier for patients receiving services is the poor understanding that many members of the general public and the medical community have of these modes of care.
For example, up to 71% of the U.S. population has little or no understanding of palliative care, including many clinicians able to refer patients and their families, according to a 2019 study in the Journal. of Palliative Medicine.
The 2022 WHPC Day theme, “Healing Hearts and Communities”, is in part to address the unprecedented toll of the COVID-19 pandemic and the emotional and mental wreckage left in its path.
As of October 6, the deadly virus has claimed nearly 6.53 million people worldwide, including 1.05 million in the United States alone, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported. But these estimates likely represent only a fraction of the actual number of deaths due to regional variations in disease surveillance, testing and inequitable access to the healthcare system.
“This year’s theme aims to highlight the plight of the billions of people who are ‘wounded on foot’ after the past few years, which have been filled with grief for everyone,” Leigh Meinert, Advocacy Officer at the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa, Hospice News said in an email. “We have a long way to go to be comfortable speaking and engaging from the perspective of death and dying.”
Celebrations like WHPC Day can help normalize and discuss death and end-of-life health care, Meinert said. The global event is also designed to encourage healthcare institutions and providers to advocate for standardized, national and regional policies and programs that meet the needs of patients and families.
Some palliative care providers see this year’s theme as an opportunity to spread their message to a wider audience, including underserved communities.
“We are looking at efforts in our general outreach to expand awareness of hospice, hospice and bereavement care to a much wider audience,” Shauna Cabot, advancement manager at Hospice of the Chesapeake, told Hospice News. “This year’s Healing Hearts and Communities theme really inspired us, because our communities need a lot of healing.
The theme speaks directly to the hospice’s efforts around health equity, according to Cabot.
Hospice of the Chesapeake is honoring WHPC Day with a fashion show fundraiser on October 8 in conjunction with WHPCA and Saks Fifth Avenue, a subsidiary of Hudson’s Bay Company.
“We wanted to bring the idea of global hospice and hospice care to a different audience,” Cabot told Hospice News. “Saks reached out to us, and many of their designers are offering clothes from around the world with representatives from Asia, South America, Africa and Europe. It will truly be a global fashion show and will include people who may not have really thought about palliative and palliative care before.
The hospice will use proceeds from the event to cover bereavement and bereavement services, palliative care, pediatric and veterans programs, Cabot said. These types of services are often under-reimbursed or not covered at all by payers.
Part of the funds will also be used to support The Brits-Hartbeespoort Hospice, Chesapeake’s sister organization in South Africa. According to Cabot, almost all palliative and palliative care services in South Africa are provided solely through volunteerism and philanthropic donations.
“WHPC Day is an opportunity to celebrate this partnership and raise awareness. We can continue to learn from the way they do things there,” Cabot said. “There’s a smaller, larger community that rallies around their patients, and that’s very different from the larger, medicalized model that we have. We can continue to learn from the genuine compassion they showed, even if they don’t have a lot of money to back it up.
According to Dr. Holly Yang, chair of the board of trustees of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, other stakeholders hope the WHPC Day events will generate more interest among clinicians to enter the fields of palliative care and seriously understaffed palliative care.
The day is also an opportunity for palliative care employers to recognize and show their appreciation for the hard work of their staff, Yang added. This, in turn, could promote employee retention.
“I hope healthcare workers get involved and see how wonderful the field of palliative and palliative care is nationally and globally,” Yang told Hospice News. “As people increasingly think about meaningful work and ways to impact health equity, an important part of that is promoting and providing access to high-quality care for critically ill patients and their families who need support around the world.”
#World #Hospice #Palliative #Care #Day #raises #global #awareness