Lured by novels about the American Southwest by author Frank Waters, my wife and I went on vacation in Durango, Colorado. It was terribly hot; we saw that nearby Taos, New Mexico, is 7,000 feet above sea level, and thought it would be cooler. So we drove over there with our trailer, and we fell in love with the place. We bought a house during that trip. Six weeks later, we were residents—we lived there for five years.
I compiled the newsletter at our kitchen table. It was printed at a local print shop, and I had a couple of friends come over to address the envelopes by hand. I twisted some arms, so that people would be on this or that, do some legwork for us! In the beginning, it was a small number of subscribers.
Why did you think that having a newsletter was important? I thought at the time, when we first started it, that we didn’t have that many people who knew about us, or what we were doing. Josephina Magno, who was the head at the time, would say yes to anything. I suggested a newsletter: “Oh, yes!” she said. I never thought I would be at it as long as I did.
Why is it important even now? I think that now, if they didn’t get something from us every month, they would quickly forget. They need to get reminded that we exist, what we are currently doing; otherwise, they’re not going to be inquisitive enough to find out.
Current editor’s note Dr. William Farr and his wife left Taos to settle in Georgia, taking up farming on her family’s land—despite having never farmed before. I joked with him that they are an impulsive couple (Who buys a house in a town that they’re visiting for the first time? Who takes up farming on a whim?). He laughed, then noted that they have lived at the farm ever since. He has given up caring for large animals (except his beloved dogs), but his wife still keeps a handful of cows.
Why was it important to have a newsletter? I can still remember the first issue of the IAHPC newsletter that I ever received: it was printed on paper and arrived by airmail in a large envelope to me at the Hospice Information Service at St. Christopher’s. Intrigued, I stopped work and started to read. Back in 1996, newsletters such as this, which promised an international palliative care focus, were rare and I could immediately see its value in bringing together people and resources in the hospice and palliative community.
And through that newsletter I discovered the IAHPC’s website—a treasure trove of useful resources, including the “Getting Started” guidelines that were so helpful to our team in signposting people to relevant information in palliative care.
Why is it important even now? Today, 25 years on, there’s an abundance of knowledge, expertise, and experience in palliative care that’s ripe for sharing. But it’s not always clear how to tap into those vital resources—we still need a signpost and a willingness to share. And that’s what the IAHPC newsletter does. The newsletter keeps people informed and up to date; it opens the window to a wider world of palliative care, and it gives people a sense of belonging.
Current editor’s note Avril Jackson managed the Hospice Information Service at St. Christopher’s Hospice from 1979 to 2010, when she retired from full-time work. Her interest in palliative care continued with opportunities to work part-time with the IAHPC (2014-2017) and the European Association for Palliative Care where she is Social Media Lead and Editor of the EAPC blog, which she created in 2012.
To learn more about St. Christopher’s Hospice, the European Association for Palliative Care visit the IAHPC Global Directory of Palliative Care Institutions and Organizations.