Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care Annual Conference: Realistic Palliative Care

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The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care Annual Conference took place on 22nd September, at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. In attendance, a range of people from palliative & end-of-life care and the health and social care sector (including of course Living Well in Communities).

This is a summary (and recording thanks to University of Glasgow’s End of Life team) of what went on during the day.

This year’s theme of Realistic Palliative Care was inspired by the CMO’s annual report: Realistic Medicine. The six point approach below is just as applicable to palliative care and quality of death.


Making the Case for Palliative Care in Times of Austerity
Professor Charles Normand, Professor of Health Policy and Management, University of Dublin

What do people want? Less hassle. It is bad enough to be dying.

  • Evaluation of palliative care is difficult and important, so better tools for assessing value and cost need to evolve. It’s impossible to have simple measures for complex activities with complex objectives.
  • Early interventions can reduce costs and improve care, particularly for those with complex needs.
  • Improving access when needed and reducing stress on informal carers are common themes stated in palliative care preferences.
  • Those requiring care often have different goals and priorities than their families and carers.

Personal Reflections on Working in Both Adult and Children’s Palliative Care
Maria McGill, Chief Executive, Children’s Hospice Association Scotland

Experiences in Paediatric Palliative Care, and Challenges and Opportunities for All
Professor Myra Bluebond-Langner, Chair in Palliative Care for Children and Young People, University College London

The Scottish Atlas of Palliative Care launch
Dr Hamilton Inbadas, Research Associate, University of Glasgow

The Scottish Atlas of Palliative Care is the first national atlas of palliative care in the world. It contains previously-unavailable data on levels, location and types of palliative care services across Scotland. Until the release of this document, Scottish data was encompassed within UK data.

Realistic Palliative Care for an Aging Population
Dr Martin Wilson, Consultant Geriatrician, NHS Highland

Geriatrics is palliative care on an industrial scale.

  • We need to be better at explaining frailty and the uncertainly that goes with it.
  • Expensive interventions sell themselves. There is a push needed on basic care at end of life.
  • Society is unrealistic about where people will actually die. Future planning is crucial, thinking about where you live, wills and power of attorney.
  • Better support must be provided for informal carers.
  • More support needed for care homes.

Anticipatory care planning in the real world 
Janette Barrie and Stuart Cumming, Healthcare Improvement Scotland
  • Three drivers of ACP: raising awareness, sharing information with public and professionals, linking the work with carer support.
  • ACP is the right thing at the right time by the right person with the right outcomes.
  • ACP should not be reserved for end of life care. Recognising all opportunities for ACP discussions is crucial.
  • Estimates that 5-6% of the Scottish population would benefit from an ACP.
  • Is a need to show impact and improvements. Change measures such as number of ACP / KIS / POA’s and admission / readmission rates.

How can we make a reality of person-centred practice?
Professor Brendan McCormack,  Associate Director Centre for Person-centred Practice Research, Queen Margaret University

The role of music in the lives of people with dementia
Diana Kerr, Consultant on Dementia Care

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