In 2014 the Dutch Ministry of Health launched a programme to further improve palliative care for patients and their families. The Netherlands offers high standards of palliative care compared with other countries. Nevertheless, the Ministry realised that improvements and innovations have to be stimulated.

The programme, called Paliantia, is executed by the Netherlands Organisation for Health research and Development (ZonMw). The Ministry devoted 51 million euro for this programme. The programme is half away now and a management report is published which describes the progress of the programme.

Overall, the palliative care programme aims to achieve further improvements and innovations in palliative care for patients and their families including best practices, and in collaboration between health care professionals concerning palliative care including regional partnerships (palliative care consortia). The needs of patients and their families play a central role, which means attention for dignity and quality of life, including bereavement counselling. Patients must have as much control as possible over the final phase of their life. Care providers must arrange palliative care as close to home as possible. Extra consideration must be given to informal careers. Palliative care should be part of regular healthcare provision.

More specifically, four themes are covered by Paliantia:

Awareness and culture focus on how people experience the final stage of life and the role of care providers to recognise the palliative phase. Indirectly, it also deals with the taboo of death and dying in western cultures.

Organisation and continuity of care deals with sharing of responsibilities between generalist and specialist care providers, and efficient handovers between care providers when patients in the final phase of life are relocated.

Care innovations and standards focus on interventions for specific groups and implementing best practice.

Patient participation includes studies on joint decision-making and involving patients and their families in palliative care innovations.

Paliantia recognises the importance of scientific collaboration with international experts. The programme stimulates international initiatives, including the sharing of practical experience and best practice, and international comparative studies.

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