Travel date: April 16, 2016
Name of Meeting/Event/Activity: VIII Latin American Congress on Palliative Care
Origin: San Salvador, El Salvador / Destination: Mexico City, Mexico
This congress was really helpful for my professional enrichment. I had the opportunity to meet a variety of professionals from different countries who shared with me their experiences as members of a palliative care team. I also had the chance to learn psychosocial aspects of the palliative care that for the meantime they have not been taken into consideration in my country. Through the opportunity I had to attend the congress, I was able to expose an investigation I did on coping styles and quality of life in palliative care patients in my country, which fills me up with extreme self-satisfaction due to the fact that I was able to share with others the things I had investigated from Salvadorians.
Overall, I had an increase on my knowledge in palliative care but one of the topics that stands up the most for me is the importance of spirituality at the end of life. I learned that is crucial to inquire about this in order to strengthen spiritual ties. All of the knowledge I acquired through the congress about this topic, will help me elaborate an interview protocol that will provide the opportunity to discover patient’s belief and their compromise with it. Also, to create an awareness of their spiritual life. On how they have been looking for a sense in their life before cancer or since the cancer began. If I establish this as part of the psychosocial interview for every patients in palliative care they will receive a more holistic care. After approaching spirituality with the patient I would consider referring him to a spiritual professionals (depending on their beliefs) that could provide them a better spiritual assistance and accompaniment. In order to give a better care on this aspect, I plan to implement a psychosocial training directed to spiritual professionals for them to know about important psychological aspects that could arouse in these patients. The importance of providing care to patient’s carers is another of the aspects that will help me further my work in palliative care. I learned the things that should be taken into consideration to provide emotional support to family members so I thought on implementing a self- care group for primary carers.
In my opinion the only thing that could be improved is to provide a higher amount of scholarships for Latin Americans. I have no doubt that there are many professionals that would like to have this experience but their financial limitations don’t allow them to assist and if El Salvador would be able to have this experience we could have better results in palliative care on the country.
In El Salvador the Health national system has not included a specific program for palliative care but there is a group of different health professionals elaborating a law on an interdisciplinary approach for cancer patients. In which there is a space included specifically for palliative care. In the other hand the country counts with a small palliative care hospital that was founded by a group of nuns called Carmelitas Descalzas. In which I have been working as a psychologist. Due to the fact that this is a benefic hospital there is no much job opportunities for professionals but psychology, medicine, physiotherapy, nurse students are allowed to do their social work at the institution and help through their knowledge the caring of this patients. In general, El Salvador needs more financial opportunities in order to help all of those in need that can’t afford a private hospital or that couldn’t reach the benefice of the palliative care hospital due to no availability. I had the chance to share time with a variety of professionals who volunteer in Argentina and implemented the first hospice center. The information I had through them will help me collaborate the group of professionals who are interested in working in a hospice center project. The work in palliative care needs to be interdisciplinary and as a psychologist there are a lot of barriers that are preventing a holistic care for this type of patients. One of these ones is the lack of information or awareness of palliative care. Most of the Salvadorians do not know the significance of palliative care. So my challenge is to create a social awareness of this service. Through all of the information acquired in the congress, now I am able to share my knowledge and create awareness campaigns.