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24. EAPC 2023: This could be Rotterdam or anywhere…

Written by Andrea Bruun, Research Associate, Kingston University.

With the tune by The Beautiful South stuck in our heads, we attended the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) 18th World Congress in Rotterdam last week. What did we do? How was it? Let me take you through our conference days in The Netherlands.

Wednesday morning, Irene, Jonny, Richard, and Jo went on the Eurostar train from London and began their journey to get to Rotterdam. I was already on Dutch ground as I was lucky enough to visit Amsterdam before going to Rotterdam for the conference. We all arrived safely, registered for the conference, and found our hotel. Irene had planned a lovely dinner for us, so we got on a train and left Rotterdam for the evening. In a little Dutch town, we were suddenly standing in front of several beautiful old windmills, and then Irene said “that’s the restaurant” – we were going to enjoy a meal in the oldest historical windmill of The Netherlands. What a way to begin our conference trip!

Thursday morning, and we headed to the conference venue to join the opening ceremony. One of the first lectures was on palliative care and people experiencing homelessness, and we were all fascinated about the project and the co-production it involved. No time to relax as Irene and Richard were chairing a session on palliative care and learning disability shortly after. They both did a wonderful job, and we felt ready for the “Kingston University party” where we were to share all our posters from The Victoria and Stuart Project.

People were interested in our research, and we had a great discussion about our creative and inclusive methods for doing focus groups and our All Together Group with people with learning disabilities. We also got everyone to dance along to our All Together Group theme song (hands up!). After our session, we met some lovely people who had been collaborating with Irene for years on palliative care research with people with learning disabilities.

Oh! It was also Jo’s birthday that day. During our “Kingston University party” we got the whole audience to sing for her, and we celebrated by having an incredible meal in an old train. First meal in a windmill and the second one in a train, we sat the bar pretty high..

Friday morning, Irene and I went to the plenary session while Jonny, Richard, and Jo prepared their presentations. And what a presentation Jonny and Richard delivered just before lunch. We were all so impressed and the audience loved it! They were talking about the Staying Alive and Well project and how they had been working on making the LeDeR report accessible for people with learning disabilities.

Jo and I then went to a talk by Kathryn Mannix on communication on death and dying. We are both big fans of Kathryn’s work and for a while we were under her spell, captivated by her stories and messages. After a quick coffee in a café nearby, it was time for Richard and Jo to present their work from the Growing Older and Planning Ahead project. They were absolutely brilliant! Richard was growing on everyone each time he was talking – and he even managed to sell several copies of his book!

Saturday, last day of the conference. We got up early as we had a breakfast session on using co-design with underserved groups within palliative care. I was chairing that session, and we had a lovely chat with the audience – we are still impressed that people got up for an 8am session on the last day of the conference. Job done! That was the last bit for us during the conference, and we could finally sit back and relax.

We went to the closing ceremony – and took some pictures on the stage. We had a final lunch together before we said goodbye. I was heading back to London while Irene, Jonny, Richard, and Jo were going to The Hague.

After a long couple of days in Rotterdam, we were all proud of ourselves (and a bit tired). Oh! And one of our posters won a prize for best poster abstract. We learned a lot and had a great time. In the next blog posts, we will share our posters and videos with you, so watch this space! In the meantime, we will relax a bit, but we cannot wait for our next conference trip.


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