Lancaster University professors help improve standards of palliative care across Europe

Guidance from the Lancaster professors' work will be used Europe wide.

By Aimee Seddon
Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 3:45 pm

An international team of experts, including three from Lancaster University, have updated the standards and norms for palliative care in Europe.

Emeritus Professor Sheila Payne, Dr Andrew Harding and Dr Tom Williams from the International Observatory on End of Life Care at Lancaster University co-authored a paper with Dr Julie Ling from the European Association of Palliative Care (EAPC) and the EAPC President, Professor Christoph Ostgathe, from Germany’s Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, which outlined the new updates.

The aim of the paper was to establish a consensus on revisions to standards and norms in palliative care in Europe, which were first established by the EAPC in 2009, by considering recent evidence about new practices and developments.

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Lancaster professors have helped alter standards for palliative care in Europe. Image: Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash.

The majority of standards and norms in five areas - definitions of palliative care, philosophy, levels, delivery, services - have remained unchanged over the last decade.

The team updated the original 2009 questionnaire with 13 new concepts and practices relating to emerging specialisms such as neonatal, geriatric and dementia palliative care, and recommendations for better access to national information sources, and the use of digital health records.

Professor Payne said: “New recommendations recognise that there are emerging sub-specialisations in palliative care in the fields of neonatal paediatrics and geriatric medicine indicating that care extends across the lifespan. These new recommendations also have implications for service quality improvements including enhancing open visiting, availability of essential medicines, better information exchange, including digital medical records, and access to specialist equipment.”

The revision was accomplished via online surveys and expert consultations with 52 European organisations affiliated to the EAPC, with the EAPC Board approving the final recommendations.

The survey showed that there was overall agreement on more than three quarters of existing recommendations for palliative care.