Corona and palliative care

Prof. Wim J.A. van den Heuvel, Chairman of the Editorial Board of PALIAŢIA

The focus is on the pandemic, indeed the Coronavirus. Suddenly, everything seems different. Also in care for patients, infected with the Coronavirus? Not exactly, palliative care is an essential part of the care also for these patients. It is not only about the concern for lonely and sick people. Indeed, it is also about them. But it is essentially about what palliative care offers: be concerned, stand together and – in this case – keep physical distance. And also in this situation, the health care professionals, i.e. the nurses and medical doctors are at charge primarily. Those working in home care, hospitals and hospices are facing the same.

Amazing may be what BBC was reporting end of March: i.e. financial losses in hospices caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Why? Due to the distancing measures charity shops are closed and fundraising events have been cancelled, cutting donations.

Fortunately, charities don’t need to ‘face the unthinkable’ because the UK government said it was “absolutely committed to keeping hospices open”. The future of (a number of) hospices is in balance! Palliative care proves to be an essential part of health care, always.

The European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) recognizes, that all expertise and experience in palliative care is welcome to deliver the best care possible in this pandemic. On the website of EAPC it is stated that ‘in unprecedented times, the EAPC knows that many of our members, supporters and colleagues are providing care in challenging circumstances.’ Therefore, a website is opened to source and share important information and updates on caring for people with COVID-19

(see https://www.eapcnet.eu/publications/coronavirus-and-the-palliative-care-response ).

All over the world, websites of hospices assure that safety of their patients is top priority, especially now! A list of hospices may be found on internet, which claim to be the best hospice facility for you or your loved one because – in the case of the Coronavirus – it can be a difficult task. A difficult task?

Palliative care is never an easy task neither is fighting a pandemic. Hopefully, many new lessons will be learned, after this pandemic is over, about prevention, organization and quality of health care, worldwide. But we may now already repeat a lesson, which health care policy makers refuse to learn: palliative care should be an integrated part of health care services. Everywhere, always!

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