The final morning of the conference saw Aileen starting a debate on Twitter about the use of benzodiazepines in palliative care with her insightful presentation. Are they being prescribed too widely? (Half of patients will be prescribed ‘benzos’ at the end-of-life).
Aileen posed some challenging questions, such as ‘whose suffering are they being prescribed to relieve?’ The dying person? The family? The clinician? Lots of food for thought. (Aileen and Jackie were still debating over paella and sangria that evening!).
Other presentations of the morning highlighted challenges in achieving one of the key priorities for palliative care moving forward, namely its early integration into the care of people with a life limiting illness. Aline Sarradon-Eck and colleagues from Marseille in France, for example, identified key barriers to early referral to palliative care from the perspective of oncologists, including perceptions of palliative care as ‘just hand holding’.
I was left wondering how many oncologists (and other ‘primary’ or ‘generalist’ palliative care providers) were attending the conference. Their involvement in debates about optimising palliative care is absolutely crucial. Maybe we could have some more plenaries from their perspective at the next EAPC conference? (Which incidentally will be held in Bern, Switzerland).