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The language used to describe illness, treatments, prognosis and death in our world is steeped in history, culture, meaning and implications. Over time, our language changes as cultural understandings and practices change, and perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the care of those who are dying. Words can evoke fear, resentment and joy. In clinical care, though they may be intended to help patients and families, at times the words we use can create confusion and missed opportunities, while at other times a carefully chosen word may open new possibilities.
We are very fortunate to have three experienced speakers who will present their reflections on language used in the care of those with advanced illness and in palliative care from their key perspectives, and will offer thoughts on how we can improve our communication.
Prof Jennifer Philip is the appointed Chair of Palliative Medicine, University of Melbourne, St Vincent’s Hospital and in collaboration with the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre. Jennifer is a palliative care clinician, researcher and teacher whose particular areas of interest include improving the ways supportive and palliative care are delivered, ensuring care is underpinned by high quality evidence and that it is delivered by well trained professionals and carers. She leads the Palliative Nexus Research Group.
Twitter: @palmed_nexus and @JenAMPhilip
A/Prof Jennifer Weil is a palliative care physician and Deputy Director of Palliative Care at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. She is a keen educator with a Master of Clinical Education, and particular interest in communication skills training.
A/Prof Mark Boughey is the Director of Palliative Medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital and Deputy Director of the Centre for Palliative Care. He is also Chair & Clinical Lead for Safer Care Victoria’s Palliative Care Clinical Network and sits on Clinical Council of Victoria. He is especially interested in the promotion and incorporation of palliative care principles and practices across all illness/disease trajectories working through the many levels of government and health care network strategic planning and policy development through to on the ground curriculum development, training and teaching. This is reflected in his work to be of influence on key platforms & organizations within the Australian healthcare system. He particularly enjoys his work with education and program implementation as well as service development initiatives within Australia’s indigenous communities.
Dr Anna Collins is Lead of the Public Health and Health Services Research Programs for Palliative Nexus at the Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne. Her research has explored public perceptions of palliative care and approaches to communication about choices for care in serious illness.
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