About 100 health care professionals in palliative care from the Mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong attended the second Palliative Care Symposium for Health Care Workers in Chinese Population jointly organized by the Faculty of Medicine of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and Li Ka-shing Foundation “Heart of Gold” Hong Kong Hospice Service Programme at the Postgraduate Education Centre of the CUHK. The representatives from Li Ka-shing Foundation; Dr Cheung Wai Lun, Director (Cluster Services), Hospital Authority and Professor T F Fok, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, CUHK officiated at the Opening Ceremony. Professor Ying-wei Wang, Chief, Heart Lotus Hospice, Tzuchi Hospital, Taiwan was invited to deliver a plenary lecture entitled “Complementary Therapy in Palliative Care” at the symposium. Professor Carmen Chan from the Nethersole School of Nursing CUHK and Ms Agnes Tin from Centre on Behavioral Health of the University of Hong Kong shared the local experiences about palliative care. There were parallel sessions at the symposium to encourage the health care professionals to share their frontline experience and further advance their understanding in palliative care.
Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families through the relief of suffering by a multidisciplinary team of specially trained health care workers, with attention to relieving pain and other physical, psychosocial and spiritual problems. Palliative care is not only confined in the hospital wards, and is also supported by outreach teams. At CUHK, palliative care research covers a few key areas including advance care planning programme, health promotion for people suffering from life-limiting disease, management of nausea and vomiting in children receiving chemotherapy for cancer, and in symptom relief during radiotherapy for lung cancer. The Postgraduate Diploma course on End of Life Care has been very popular and has produced 25 graduates since its inception in 2006. There are plans for running new programmes to reinforce palliative care service at the North District region, covering cancer and non-cancer patients.
In 2007, the Li Ka-shing Foundation contributed HK$42 million to the Hospital Authority to set up hospice day care centres across eight hospital clusters, including the CUHK-affiliated Prince of Wales Hospital in Shatin, to ease the physical and emotional suffering of the terminally ill through comprehensive palliative care services.
CUHK is indebted to the continued support from the Li Ka-shing Foundation and its sponsorship for this symposium. The Foundation aims to contribute to society by helping those in need to build a better life. Its munificent support to the health care sector has benefited countless patients in Hong Kong, Mainland China and worldwide. The Foundation pioneered free hospice care services in the mainland in 1998 with the establishment of the “Heart of Gold” National Hospice Service Program, setting up China’s first free hospice care unit at the First Affiliated Hospital of the Shantou University Medical College. The Program now offers hospice care for patients in 30 top hospitals nationwide across 30 cities in 24 provinces with an annual donation of HK$45 million. To date the Foundation has served over 84,000 impoverished patients and recruited 9,800 volunteers, and benefited around 20,000 cancer patients annually.
CUHK is also thankful to the Hospital Authority which aims at providing holistic care to the patients in Hong Kong. The Hospital Authority provides the patients with comprehensive palliative care services including treatment and support through multidisciplinary collaboration in its palliative care centres.