Death is a topic many of us choose not to think about till the very end. For many healthcare professionals, who pledge to make the health of their patient their first consideration, it too can be an uncomfortable and sensitive topic to discuss with their patients. This is especially the case with non-cancer patients whose prognosis may be difficult to predict. How then can healthcare professionals and the community talk about death? How can we ensure that there is a choice when it comes to the end of our lives?
Recognising this growing need for palliative and end-of-life care, LKCMedicine has teamed up with the National Healthcare Group (NHG) and Dover Park Hospice (DPH) in a tripartite collaboration to form The Palliative Care Centre for Excellence in Research and Education (PalC). A Memorandum of Understanding for PalC was signed at the Singapore Health & Biomedical Congress (SHBC) 2017 on 12 October, witnessed by the Congress Guest-of-Honour Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong. The MOU is the culmination of eight years’ efforts between the three institutions which already share many ties.
LKCMedicine, DPH and NHG celebrate the inking of an MOU to advance palliative and end-of-life care through the new centre
LKCMedicine Dean Professor James Best said, “We want to make palliative care an integral part of our healthcare system to ensure that wherever patients choose to live out their last days, they can spend them in comfort and with dignity.”
The Centre will concentrate on innovative and transformative research to deliver quality palliative care, and develop training and educational programmes to equip healthcare professionals with the skills to help patients live their final moments with dignity.
PalC Director and Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) Palliative Care Department Senior Consultant Dr Allyn Hum said, “Patients suffering from end-organ diseases experience declining health interspersed with brief periods of stability, making their prognosis difficult to predict. Not only does this potentially limit their access to palliative care but for patients and their families, this unpredictability also makes the end-of-life journey even more stressful.”
By leveraging the strengths and resources of LKCMedicine and TTSH, the Centre will conduct research that will allow the team to look for “out-of-the-box” solutions to deliver quality palliative care. Effective prognostic tools will also be developed for non-cancer patients to ease them into end-of-life treatments.
In addition to enhancing palliative care research, the centre will also develop training and education programmes for people who are directly involved in patients’ final days. As palliative care not only involves healthcare professionals, the need to educate family members on how to better care and manage the patient is crucial in preparing for their final days.
LKCMedicine Executive Vice-Dean and DPH Chairman Professor Lionel Lee said, “LKCMedicine is proud to be a partner of PalC, and I think that LKCMedicine can provide its expertise in two areas; one in educating healthcare professionals and the community on palliative and hospice care, and the other to provide high levels of academic standards for research into palliative care.”
The interim PalC will be housed at LKCMedicine’s Clinical Sciences Building, with plans to move into its permanent home in the Integrated Care Hub at DPH in the near future.
Of the collaboration, CEO of DPH Mr Timothy Liu said, “We believe this collaboration will further research into care models and better enable healthcare professionals and the community with the knowledge and skills on end-of-life care and options to support families with loved ones who wish to spend their last days at home whenever possible.”
“The inking of this MOU to set up PalC is an exciting step forward and crystallises the vision, and will make end-of-life care better and more meaningful,” he added.