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Palliative care 2020:towards integration of palliative care in an age-friendly EU, 15 October 2014 Brussels

The EURO IMPACT (Deliens, Van den Block) and IMPACT (Engels; Vernooij-Dassen) projects presented their newly gained knowledge on palliative care in this final conference. These projects provide recommendation for EU policy to face the major challenge of delivering high quality long-term care for people with life-limiting illnesses. They strongly advocate to integrate palliative care into education and services and into the structure and financing of national health care systems. Palliative care should not only be used in cancer care. The IMPACT project integrated palliative and dementia care knowledge through a collaboration between experts of the European Association Palliative Care (EAPC) and INTERventionDEMentia (INTERDEM). The results were a model and quality indicators for the organisation of palliative dementia care.

The patient perspective was strongly represented in the conference. Persons with cancer do not consider themselves first and foremost as patients, but as persons embedded into a network of family and friends with a variety of roles. Being respected as a citizen is as important as the fact that care needs to be met. They do not ask for instant solutions, but for attention: stop, look, listen. Moreover they requested professionals not to talk above their heads about their own interests, such as what to do at the week-end, but instead to talk with them. A person-centered rather than a professional centered perspective should be put into place.

There was a lively debate with policy makers. The  European Union considers it to be
her task to stimulate collaboration between states and to reduce inequalities
between countries. The EU wants best practices and positive experiences to be exchanged between states. The EU demonstrates active involvement by stimulating states to include palliative care into disease specific guidelines. With the new EU programme just starting, this is the very moment to introduce new approaches to deliver high quality long-term care for people with life-limiting illnesses.

Prof. Dr. Myrra Vernooij-Dassen, co-chair IMPACT, Professor of psychological aspects of care for frail elderly persons

 Prof.dr. M. Vernooij-Dassen

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