Helen Butler reflects on the 2019 International Public Health Palliative Care Conference.
One of the big themes of the conference for me was that we need address some of the long-held assumptions in palliative care in order to achieve equitable access. It was great to see some of the sessions addressing difference and how this affects ability to access palliative care, including when you don’t have a caregiver, when you are poor and when you are homeless. It was also inspiring to hear people like Professor Kelli Stajduhar talk about the snowballing of disadvantage for some people (intersectionality) and how this leads to discrimination in formal healthcare settings.
I presented my Masters and preliminary PhD work exploring palliative care for people with mental illness. I had some great feedback from people who attended my session – many people did not know that people with a diagnosis of mental illness are dying earlier, have complexities around their experience of physical illness and yet are not having equitable access to specialist palliative care.
Overall, I have come away with more questions than answers, which is a good thing in the context of my studies! The main question I am currently grappling with is ‘how can we rally communities to be compassionate for people in their dying when there are some in our society who are not really valued in their living?’.
You can access Helen’s slides via the link below.