Patients and their relatives have a right to be cared for in a holistic fashion by both clinical and non-clinical care. This was at the heart of a conference we held at 1 Wimpole St recently, made possible by support from the Rayne Foundation. The Woolf Institute has supported, trained and engaged with palliative care staff across the country for over five years now. Our training courses in diversity and end of life care have helped to not only support staff and volunteers in hospitals, hospices and communities; but they have also helped to enhance the impact of care given to those in critical need.
A range of experts from hospitals, hospices and community care engaged in discussion and debate with delegates from across Britain. These vibrant sessions created a much needed space for honest dialogue about the challenges that exist in healthcare, including palliative care, when providing holistic care to those from different religious, spiritual or cultural backgrounds. Another striking feature was the consistency with which both academics and practitioners explored the need for greater awareness of nuanced diversity, at a time when resources are short and pressures on our care systems are increasing. It has become more important to invest in educating both staff and volunteers in understanding issues such as the demedicalisation of dying, looking at who is dying and in what context. Rabbi Wittenberg, our keynote speaker, reflected on the circles of meaning that a person may die in – both the physical space as well as the spiritual journey of both patients and their relatives. He, and other speakers, explored the impact of training, to understand the approaches and values that can help us as people in communities and as a society to reflect more deeply on the meaning of life and death for different people and communities.
Throughout the day delegates were able to enjoy excellent hospitality and spend time with speakers and guests. The atmosphere was positive throughout the day and the feedback has been excellent. Those who were unable to attend the conference or have an interest in the subject can catch a programme about this topic here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04m3rrs, (located at 25:20) on the Sunday Programme.
For information on our training and teaching programmes please visit us.
This article is by Sughra Ahmed who is Programmes Manager at the Centre for Policy and Public Education at the Woolf Institute. She recently organised a conference entitled: End of Life Care Matters.