Since 2015, the CSU Shiley Haynes Institute for Palliative Care has convened an annual symposium to gather the educators of tomorrow’s healthcare workforce, and researchers and clinicians who shape education and care delivery, to share their best ideas to advance palliative care for those with serious and chronic illness.
Each year, the attendees have gathered with enthusiasm and passion for conversation and dissemination of new ideas that are launched during this exchange. Now, in 2022 as we reconvene on April 21 and 22 in San Diego after two years disrupted by a global pandemic, we are featuring a new experience called “A Moment for the HeART.”
Many who attend the symposium became interested in palliative care through life-changing personal experiences. Others have come to believe in palliative care through caregiving experience, professionally or personally. Others who had never heard of palliative care or seen it in action will have witnessed – and been inspired by – its power during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Until very recently, all our healthcare providers could offer COVID patients was relief from pain and symptoms, life-sustaining treatments designed to allow the body to overcome the virus and heal, support to families and loved ones kept distant, and assistance with wrenching decisions and choices in agonizing circumstances. Until very recently, and still to a very large extent, all COVID care has been palliative care!
Recognizing the profound impacts, losses, and disorientation we’ve all experienced over the past couple of years, the symposium program committee felt it was important to provide an opportunity for our attendees to grieve, or to celebrate, or just to process – to sit and reflect on what it has all meant and where we go from here. To remember, and honor, what brought us to this work in the first place. Thus, at the symposium, we are providing time and space for anyone to make meaning from what brought them to palliative care, what has been burdening them, what has been joyous and life-changing, or what lies ahead.
”A Moment for the HeART” will be a private, reflective space located in a corner of the Regatta Pavilion set up with four different activities. Art supplies and instructions will be furnished; soothing music will provide a background. All that is needed is the desire to express a feeling, thought, or memory by using the supplies to create a small flag, greeting card, painted rock, or post-it note with a thought for our HeART tree. Or not. Sitting in the peace is ok too!
The space will be open for the duration of the symposium, so at any time, attendees can take a few minutes to care for themselves this way. During lunch on Friday, a time of pause and reflection will be facilitated as well, to bring together the thoughts brought out by this activity. The Institute thanks the team of professionals who have helped shape the symposium’s agenda for their suggestion to provide a sacred space for attendees to reflect and nurture themselves – to take a moment to look inside their HeARTs.