7th World Congress on democratising caring, dying and grieving comes to Bruges

From 20 to 23 September 2022, the Public Health Palliative Care International Conference (PHPCI) will take place in Bruges. For a period of four days, the focus will be on the dialogue between science and citizens concerning the democratisation of palliative care and end of life.

Death, suffering and grieving are often taboo in our society. During this conference, a solution to this reality will be sought: how can compassionate communities, such as Compassionate Bruges, help to break this taboo and put serious illness, family care, dying and grief higher on the agenda of policy makers. The operating base for this congress will be the brand new Bruges Meeting & Convention Centre (BMCC). At the same time, the historic city centre will serve as the backdrop for a variety of activities relating to these themes.

“The challenges around serious illness, family care, dying and grieving extend beyond what professional health care as we know it today is sometimes able to provide. That is the reason why in Bruges, we have started working on these themes with the Compassionate City network of engaged citizens that we established in 2020 in collaboration with the End-of-Life Care research group (VUB/UGent),” says the city's Alderman for Social Welfare, Pieter Marechal

“Local government, health and welfare organisations, workplaces, schools, faith communities and neighbourhoods have joined forces over the past few months to generate discussions about these issues within various organisations and at a variety of locations and times. High-quality care, including during the final phase of life, always plays a key part in the actions that we develop in collaboration with Compassionate Bruges. The expertise that this conference will bring to our city will only strengthen this. We are looking forward to being the first Compassionate city in Belgium to host this congress,” adds Bruges' Alderman for Social Affairs, Pablo Annys.

In the past, we cared for each other more

The Compassionate Communities movement has therefore clearly taken root in Belgium. This international movement has successfully proven on a global scale, in countries such as Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, that bringing people together in the area of serious illness, loss and grief, works. We are all living longer and we are witnessing an increasing number of people at the end of their lives undergo a long period of decline, during which they require care. And it won't stop there: the number of people in such a situation is expected to increase, so the need for support will also increase further. And with it the pressure being placed on conventional healthcare. Professor Joachim Cohen of the End-of-Life Care research group: “Creating compassionate communities is an excellent opportunity for our society to become more connected and to democratise our care. When you realise that at the end of his/her life, a dying person spends only 5% of their time in the presence of a professional caregiver and the remaining 95% alone or with family, friends, neighbours and/or colleagues, it makes a lot of sense to give those people the tools they need to take on that task in a meaningful and qualitative way by means of Compassionate Communities, instead of focusing solely on healthcare professionals.”

Compassionate Community: a tried-and-tested model with which to achieve the democratisation of care

Professor Luc Deliens of the Research Group on End-of-Life Care: “Compassionate Communities, which focus on the democratisation of caring, dying and grieving, provide a way forward that responds to the pressing need to involve citizens, companies, associations, communities and their social environment once again closely in supporting loss, grieving and end-of-life care. We are therefore very happy and proud that we have been able to bring the 7th PHPCI to Bruges. This congress is a unique opportunity for Compassionate Bruges and other Compassionate communities, such as the municipality of Herzele, to engage with this international movement.”

“We are very proud that PHCPI has chosen to organise their 7th congress in Bruges and that this will actually take place in the year 2022, when the new Bruges Meeting & Convention Centre opens its doors. The new building is located in the heart of historic Bruges. Step outside the BMCC and discover at once what this admirable UNESCO World Heritage City has to offer you,” says the city's Alderman for Tourism and Chairman of the BMCC, Philip Pierins.

Key information

The congress will be held from Tuesday 20 to Friday 23 September 2022 at the BMCC in Bruges.

Full information can be found at: www.phpci2022.com

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