End-of-Life Essentials Blog

Reflections from the Oceanic Palliative Care Conference 2023: Inspiring Connections and Implementable Ideas

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End-of-Life Essentials

Jo-Anne Amos, Palliative Care Coordinator, Echuca Health, was a successful recipient of the End-of-Life Essentials Oceanic Palliative Care Conference sponsorship. Here Jo-Anne shares her experience of the conference.

Echuca Health colleagues Jan Carey, Denise Inwood, Jo-Anne Amos and Tracey Flynn

What an action-packed week! As often is the case, networking is one of the great positives you experience when attending conferences. In this case, it all started at Bendigo airport, where I had the pleasure of meeting up with some of the palliative care staff from the Bendigo Palliative Care teams. It was the perfect opportunity to build on existing relationships and create new ones. While at the conference, I had further opportunities to engage with colleagues and discuss new ideas and opportunities for collaborations within our region.

Upon arriving in Sydney, I was joined by other colleagues from Echuca who were also attending the conference. Their presence promised to be incredibly helpful for sharing information on our return…there was just so much to take in and absorb during the three days. Plus, it's always a joy to attend conferences with like-minded peers.

The conference wasn't just about professional growth. It was also a chance to reconnect with old colleagues from both Eastern Health and Eastern Palliative Care, and that added a personal touch to the experience. It reminded me that palliative care is not just about building professional connections but also about nurturing the human connections we have that make this field so special.

Day One: A Day Bursting with Inspiration

The first day of the conference was packed with information and inspiration. It all began with an incredible start, thanks to Dr. Jo Doran, a Palliative Care Doctor from the Gold Coast, who served as the Master of Ceremonies. The open plenary set the tone for the discussions that would follow - ’With the end in mind – designing and delivering quality palliative care’.

One session that left a lasting impression was Dr. Hsien Seow's discussion on co-design and delivering palliative care. I was already a fan of his podcast, "Waiting Room Revolution", so hearing him in person was a real treat. His insights were so inspiring that I couldn't resist lining up to get a signed copy of his book, "Hope for the Best and Plan for the Rest."

Another memorable moment came from Dr. David Currow who emphasised the importance of friendship in the future of care. His quote, "If you have friends, keep them; if you don't have friends, make them as they will be caring for us in the future," was both thought-provoking and a little bit frightening. It made me ponder the future of the care economy and the need to change and adapt our care models to embrace compassionate community approaches.

Exploring the Exhibition Hall

The exhibition hall was like a treasure trove of information. I discovered numerous valuable resources there, including Indigenous materials to share, links to education packages like End-of-Life Essentials, and information on grief and bereavement support. Being from a border town, I also found resources in New South Wales that I had been unaware of, which will undoubtedly benefit our community.

Focusing on Implementable Ideas

I'll admit, I tend to get overzealous with ideas and making changes. So, I tried to focus on one thing that I could take away from the conference and implement or turn into practice. The challenge was choosing just one because every session seemed to offer something worthwhile.

Some of these included:

  • improving discharge and communication with Residential Aged Care Facilities
  • improving the transition from cancer services to palliative care, and
  • improving education i.e., developing a palliative care nursing beginner to expert framework.

The last plenary session was truly inspiring, it delved into compassionate communities and the fantastic work done by the Council of Bunbury, as seen in the Compassionate Bunbury Charter. It reignited my passion for an idea we had previously pursued—a grant to establish a compassionate community. With the additional data on how well this model works in supporting our community and alleviating the workload on our already struggling health services, now feels like the perfect time to revisit this initiative.

Here's to the Oceanic Palliative Care Conference, an event that not only broadened my horizons professionally but also left me with memories of meaningful connections (and great dancing).



Jo-Anne Amos, Palliative Care Coorindator, Echuca Health

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