Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of life. Living long, being sick briefly, and dying well is a good death, which is a common goal pursued by the whole world’s populations. Therefore, every second Saturday in October has become designated as World Hospice and Palliative Care Day (WHPCD), and each year, a different theme appeals to the public about paying attention to the issue of death.
The Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) determines the annual theme of WHPCD and invites all countries that provide palliative care to pay particular attention to palliative care and the right of a good death for their people. These activities have received extensive responses from organizations and groups around the world. Previous themes have included: Palliative Care: It's ‘My Care, My Comfort’ (2020), and Leave No One Behind – Equity in Access to Palliative Care (2021). This year (2022), WHPCA chose Healing Hearts and Communities as the theme of WHPCD.
Soothing Pain and Offering Gentle Support
In the past two years, more than six million people around the world have lost their lives due to the ravages of COVID-19, which has brought an unprecedented burden to the frontline of medical care. Whether it is family or professional caregivers, they are all under great pressure. In addition, the many conflicts and wars that are taking place internationally have also brought unquantifiable grief and destruction to many countries around the world. Millions of families are grieved by the death of their relatives and friends and face social isolation and psychological trauma.
The theme of this year's WHPCD, Healing Hearts and Communities, is to call on society to express care for these suddenly bereaved people on this day, and to act as their closest and gentlest supporting force in the community.
National Activities in Response to WHPCD
According to the usual practice, countries that provide palliative care have responded to this international event with activities of various forms and scales, calling on everyone to work together to awaken society about proper end-of-life treatment and care for bereaved families.
Taiwan, which ranks third in the world in terms of quality of death, surely cannot be absent. The Hospice Foundation of Taiwan designed and launched a series of activities for professionals and the general public in accordance with WHPCD, hoping to bring comfort and warmth to society and allow Taiwan to once again join forces with the rest of the world.
— Taiwan —
The Hospice Foundation chose October 4 and 6 to hold an international forum on Healing Hearts and Communities for hospice practitioners. Top experts from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Canada were invited to discuss their experiences of grief consultation and promotion work and the structuring of compassionate care cities in various countries based on theory and practice. At the same time, it published a helpful book, Sending You on a Long Journey with Love, which invited many celebrities to write their own views on death, in hopes of stirring the public to action, and preparing for their own end of life plans. Also, it utilized a two-day WHPCD special program called Hospice Online Chat Room to change the topic of life and death from something that people do not – and dare not – talk about into sincere, casual conversations that encourage them to break the taboo, and be able to accept the good intentions of hospice and palliative care.
— Southeast Asia and South Asia —
Other Asian countries also participated in the WHPCD. Malaysia held a fun marathon competition on October 1, inviting the general public to participate in response to WHPCD. The Philippines hosted a series of events. For example, Los Banos Laguna presented a virtual concert on October 7, featuring a film by Madre de Amor Hospice Foundation that depicted emotional stories of support for people facing grief and bereavement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another example is Makati City, which offered a fun marathon on October 8 to raise public awareness of hospice and palliative care. Also, the Philippine Society of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (PSHPM) hosted its 4th Annual General Meeting on October 9, a two-day webinar on topics such as palliative care and end-of-life care.
Hospice and palliative care organization CanSupport also offered a free concert in Delhi, India on October 9, featuring the singing of Indian ghazal master and classical vocalist Dr. Radhika Chopra, in support of the end-of-life care and hospice and palliative care movement around the world. The Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network (APHN) launched a virtual challenge where people can choose to independently run, walk, hike, or cycle as a way to assist with hospice fundraising.
— Americas —
In the Americas, the U.S. organized a two-day virtual conference on October 3-4. Palliative care professionals and healthcare staff from home and abroad gathered online to discuss nursing dignity, racism and structural discrimination, mental distress and burnout, prison palliative care, substance use, and end-of-life medical care. Mexico City hosted a symposium on October 6 to discuss the importance of nursing staff providing end-of-life care for terminally ill patients. Canada held special lectures in Toronto and Vancouver on October 12 and October 28 respectively, focusing on the development of public health in palliative care and the medical essentials of modern hospice and palliative care.
— Europe —
Among the European countries, Portugal, in response to WHPCD, promoted the importance of hospice and palliative care at a shopping mall in Portimão on October 8 with the theme of Mourning. On the same day, the United Kingdom provided an online conference to discuss innovative ways to re-consider palliative care education during the pandemic.