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EBMT 2021 Annual Meeting - Supportive and Palliative Care

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NG06 Supportive and palliative care

Tuesday, March 16, 14:30 - 15:45, Auditorium 3

One of today’s Nurses Group's Sessions taking place this afternoon focuses on supportive and palliative care, and is opened by Dr Sandra Eckstein and Silke Walter of the Department of Palliative Care at University Hospital Basel, Switzerland.

An advanced incurable disease represents a deep cut to the lives of those affected. Physical limitations and complaints, together with fears and worries, often trigger existential burdens and suffering,” explains Dr Eckstein. “Promoting and strengthening the meaning of life, dignity and hope is therefore a special task. In this situation, meaning-based interventions are important elements in the support and treatment of patients. Meaning-centred interventions aim to enhance self-esteem and a sense of dignity.”

Dr Eckstein and Ms Walter will discuss various different meaning-centred interventions, including group therapies. However, they emphasize that psychotherapy for patients nearing the end of their lives receiving palliative care is highly complex and therefore requires an intervention that is specifically tailored to the individual needs. They conclude: “Dignity Therapy and CALM Therapy are individual interventions. We will give a brief insight to those interventions.”

The second presentation, covering the challenge of decision making at the end of life, is by Professor Jakob Passweg, Head of the Haematology Clinic also at University Hospital Basel. “There are many treatment decisions to be taken in the course of a disease. These include criteria we use for active treatment and adaptations to this, for example to regulate intensity of treatment,” he explains.

He will discuss how similar things happen at the end of life, where treatment decisions include when to stop active treatment and to switch to palliative care, anticipating death. “In this presentation, I will focus on the situation of transplant patients with incontrollable disease, be it uncontrollable malignancy or uncontrollable treatment complications such as graft versus host disease. Decisions include when and how to communicate with patients and family and how to transition in the hospital ward from active treatment to palliative care.”

The final part of this session ‘Early Intervention’ will look at the potential benefits of early palliative care involvement for haematology patients, and is presented by Dr Richard Towers, Nurse Consultant Palliative Care, Cicely Saunders Institute, London, UK.  “This presentation recognises the death rates for some haematological interventions and considers how mortality itself may be forgotten when trying to treat serious health conditions,” explains Dr Towers.

The broad concepts and aims of palliative care will be covered and Dr Towers suggests that a shared strategy (parallel planning) is adopted for all. He concludes: “The session considers the principles of good end of life care and how these could be facilitated by advanced care planning and open communication about risks and negative outcomes. It considers some of the barriers to open communication and asks the audience to reflect upon their own working environments.”