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For a significant number of caregivers, their religion is intrinsically tied to their practice. For others, spiritual concerns arise from the patients seeking solace.  The University of Chicago, a world renowned medical institute, has created a Program on Medicine and Religion, a unique blend of theology and clinical care. From May 23 – May 25, 2012 the program held a conference in Chicago, USA, “Responding to the Call of the Sick: Religious Traditions and Health Professions Today”, much of which touched on palliative and hospice care.

The conference sought to reach a wide audience including physicians, nurses, clinical care professionals, scholars and other health care experts on an array of topics within religion, ethics, science and the practice of care.  Speakers came from around the world including Israel, Jordan, and Malaysia.

While addressing contemplations of the interplay between religion and medicine from a more academic perspective, the conference did surface some important questions for practitioners to consider: how do we balance practical care and faith?  How should caregivers respond to address spiritual concerns of patients?  These questions can help caregivers be more knowledgeable about how their work can affect their patient and equip them for challenges they may face in their work.

While we may not have the answers, Manya A. Brachear, a Chicago Tribune Reporter, shares experiences of caregivers’ contact with spirituality in their practice. The program’s latest project, titled Project on a Good Physician, will take on the moral and ethical questions of what makes a good physician. 

Please share your experiences and insights as well, right here on our blog.

‘Quality of life is a common phrase but quality of death is another matter’, a quote from a recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a global research firm providing business analysis on a wide variety of subjects.

In Quality of Life: Ranking End-of-Life Care Across the World, EIU reports that as the global population ages, the demand for end-of-life care is expected to surge and governments and other providers are racing against time to meet these needs.
Britain topped the list for the best end-of-life care, followed by Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Austria.    According to the study, institutions specialising in palliative care are not part of the national healthcare systems and the availability of pain-killing drugs is woefully inadequate across much of the world.   This leads to ‘an incalculable surfeit of suffering, not just for those about to die but also for their loved ones’, states the report.

The report also cites data showing that more than 100 million patients and their family care givers need palliative support annually, but fewer than 8 % of them actually receive it.

Palliative Care Australia, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Ageing, recently released the National Standards Assessment Program [NASP], a guideline designed to boost the level of care provided by palliative care institutions.

According to an article in the Sydney Star Observer, the standards are welcomed by providiers and families, but all are aware that this was only the first step.  The standards are guidelines only, the test will be to see if they are used by service providers.

End of life care is a very important but often neglected step in caring for older adults and those with end stage diseases. In Ireland palliative care has historically been limited to those with cancer. However as this article in the Irish Times points out, they are trying to change that.

A report titled Palliative Care for All: Integrating Palliative Care into Disease Management was recently published by the Irish Hospice Foundation and the HSE. The report was commissioned as part of a project to extend palliative care for patients with conditions other than cancer. The goal is to improve the provision of palliative care in hospitals and begin a national dialogue about death, dying and bereavement.

About this blog

IAHSA’s Global Ageing Network Blog was created because of you!! We got your message loud and clear – “Provide us with a quick and nimble communications vehicle so we can stay connected and create community across borders".

Questions? Email us at iahsa@leadingage.org.

Authors

Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

Majd Alwan, Director, CAST

Alla Rubinstein, Program Administrator, IAHSA

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