Wednesday, March 05, 2008

colleagues and conferences

February in South India is a beautiful month and therefore a popular time for conferences visits from international colleagues. Many give their time generously from busy UK schedules. So, what can be achieved in these consultancy visits? Judith Smith has been visiting India since she spent 5 months in Calicut in 2005 and has visited as a Cairdeas consultant for the past 2 years. She has a particular skill in mentoring and supporting young nurses who may be only starting their palliative care and training or working as health care assistants. These visits can be challenging too as the vagaries of travel, planning and life in India take their toll! As part of our partnership with Pallium India Judith supported the nurse training in Trivandrum along with Raelee Jensen then came over to Vellore to support training at the new hospice. Here is an early morning session. Sr Patsy spoke of the great benefit of these dedicated nurses training sessions in reflecting on current practise, refining skills and knowledge and the opportunity to discuss concerns. We also visited the Tamil Nadu government cancer centre at Kancheepuram; a place where thousands of the poorest people are treated and a new palliative care service is developing. These visits help to raise profile as well as offer teaching.

The 15th international conference of the Indian Association for Palliative Care was a great occasion. Held in Kerala at Kochi, the pearl of the Arabian Sea, the focus was Quality and Coverage. More than 400 delegates from across India gathered with a significant number of faculty and delegates coming from abroad. This group dressed for the gala dinner come from Bangladesh, the UK, Uganda, Zimbabwe and the WHO! After many years of advocacy and developing innovative services in India, there is a need to review quality and a working group presented a draft paper with minimum standards for palliative care services. This will now be discussed, piloted and we hope implemented by the IAPC in due course. Congratulations to the organising team for Kochipallcon - I know something of the hard work and moments of anxiety and the whole team were rightly proud. It was a colourful, warm, professional, rich experience for all of who took part. There was a special lifetime award presented to Robert Twycross for his support to palliative care developments in India. We were particularly pleased to be able to support the faculty visit of Dr Lydia Mpanga Sebuyira from Uganda. She is the Director of Education at the Infectious Diseases Institute in Kampala and previously Director of Education at Hospice Africa Uganda - as well as a good friend! Being able to share experiences and learning across different centres and continents is a great encouragement. This lovely photo shows Lydia as well as Judith and Irene. Irene, a senior social worker from England has just completed 3 months at CMC Vellore. We will share more of her visit and the developements in social work in a BLOG post very soon.

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