Invitation to bid – 13th Asia Pacific Hospice Conference 2019


The APHN Council is pleased to invite member organizations wishing to host the 13th Asia Pacific Hospice Conference 2019 to send in their application to the APHN Secretariat.  Closing date for submission of application and bid documents has been extended till Monday, 30 March 2015.

Click here to download the bidding document template and the procedure for application.

Please email the bidding document to

Please note to send your file as “Bidding document for 13th APHC_<your organization name>”


Hospis Malaysia Workshop on Communication Skills

Hospis Malaysia4 to 5 April 2015 @ Hospis Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur

Imparting ‘bad’ news, dealing with issues of treatment, psychological ‘taboo’ topics, spiritual and existential concerns can be very challenging and must be managed appropriately. In fact, good communication is inherent in connecting with patients and their care givers.

Effective communication skills is absolutely necessary in providing palliative care that is well planned and delivered through the collaborative efforts of many people including the patient, their care givers (family and friends) and service providers. It fosters trustful relationship as well as a healing experience for managing daily life.

Communication skills can be learnt and this workshop deals with the mechanics of communication that ranges from issues, techniques and practical sessions when dealing with patients with life-limiting illness and their families. Doctors and nurses will benefit most from this workshop as the most difficult areas are encountered during clinical consultations.

The facilitators for the workshop would be Dr Sylvia Ann Mc Carthy and Dr Rebecca Coles-Gale from the United Kingdom.

Members of APHN will be entitled to a discounted rate for this workshop. Kindly present your membership ID during registration. For more information about the course and registration, please visit their official website here.

1st Online forum Discussion on Paediatric Palliative Care


APHN has set up our very own online forum platform for discussion on palliative care issues. We hope the forum can serve as a contact point to link individuals involved in palliative care to foster collaboration, share knowledge and start discussions in this area. The 1st forum discussion topic will focus on Paediatric Palliative Care. The forum will be accessible for members to log in from 31 January. Click here to view the forum.


11th Asia Pacific Hospice Conference, Taipei, Taiwan, 2015


Picture Day

StarPals LogoWritten by: APHN volunteer, Joy Liu, Research Assistant, Lien Centre for Palliative Care

It is a girl’s room. Pink walls, tissue box wrapped in frilled edging. Through the half-open door, sounds of her little brother running about and the unpacking of equipment drifted in. But she was still. She sat, hands folded across her gold polka-dotted, salmon tulle-lined dress, eyes closed and head tilted back. A brush smoothed her cheeks, nose, and forehead with primer, foundation and luminizer. The makeup artist standing in front of her applied each in sequence, pulling bottles and tubes from a pale rose box covered in shimmering butterflies.

A man walked in. He watched as her mother, standing behind her, smoothed short tufts of hair into a straight line across her forehead. A moment later, he joined in with a compliment, “Wow, you look so pretty.” He continued with a half-joking jab at his gender’s incomprehension, “All women want to look pretty,” and got a few laughs from the women in the room. The mother replied, “Of course, Dr. Chong” and told him a story of her daughter’s eagerness to put on makeup for a primary school photoshoot not too long ago.

It was picture day. The family’s living room was filled with over ten volunteers from Star PALS unpacking lighting, setting up camera equipment and talking to the grandparents. Star PALS is a community paediatric palliative care service in Singapore that supports children living with life limiting conditions at home. Its multi-disciplinary team of clinical and allied health specialists render dedicated care that is both comprehensive and family centred, attending to often forgotten siblings and grandparents, in addition to offering much appreciated respite within the home setting. It is a service provided by HCA Hospice Care This Saturday afternoon, program director Dr. Chong Poh Heng and a team of volunteers have come to take a family portrait.

“Pampering” is the word he used to describe the reason for this service. On occasion, it also gives him a chance to talk to the family members, some of whom may not usually be present for his weekly visits. This way, he can provide more tailored and holistic care. But more than that, he says it is to “build up the joy of being a family.”

When it was her mother’s turn, she watched. Daughter faced her mother, who closed her eyes in anticipation of what she knew came next from years of applying makeup to her own face. The brush deposited product on unblemished skin lighter than her daughter’s but more taut, thinner. Her brows were traced, her eyelids lined, her lips painted berry in slow detail. She tilted her head and lowered it, closed her eyes and opened them, looked up and then down in a knowing dance with the brushes, pens, liners. It was a ritual she knew.

When finished, she cast a quick glance at the mirror, then turned to her daughter again to tuck away stray hairs, compliment her on how pretty the makeup was. It was more special for one less acquainted with it.

The first of the three generations, the last to be called in was the paternal grandmother. She sat down heavily. Even though she knew what came next, on occasion the lines around her eyes and forehead fluttered up and down as her face defied imposed stillness. A few sunspots that couldn’t be covered with light foundation marked her age. She barely looked at the mirror at all. She only blinked a few times when the makeup was done, as if unaccustomed to the added weight.

When the three women finished their makeup, the family gathered in front of the living room window. The transparent, gilded curtains were drawn to provide a backdrop. Mother and father stood in the back. Grandmother and grandfather sat front, center. She sat on the right, next to her mother and grandmother. Her brother stood in his tuxedo and red bowtie on the other side. They smiled. The lights flashed. They smiled again. The doctor and an HCA volunteer joined in, standing next to the mother and father.

After a few shots of the mother and father together, she was called for her own portrait. She sat in the middle of a row of chairs in front of two bright lights. She looked up through the wig that gave her long bangs, the round glasses that hid her drooping eyes, and the pair of Minnie Mouse ears from her Make-a-Wish trip to Disneyland. She looked at the camera, surrounded by fifteen faces looking at her, smiling at her, wishing to her. She straightened her back a little. The lights flashed.

Japan’s 1st community-supported hospice for children to open in Osaka

230315Plans are going ahead to build the first community-supported hospice for children in Osaka, Japan with support from Uniqlo and The Nippon Foundation.

The Japan Today reports on the announcement by The Children’s Hospice Project (CHP), The Nippon Foundation and Uniqlo of a plan to build Japan’s first community-supported hospice for children to go ahead. The hospice will boast 979.11 square meters of floor space over two floors, on a 2,000-square-metre property. The TSURUMI Children’s Hospice will have playrooms, living rooms, kitchens, and accommodation for children and their families.Construction starts in mid-March 2015, with plans to open in December this year.Run by volunteers and at no cost to users, the hospice will use donations to offer medical, educational, and childcare resources, as well as respite care services. Volunteers will include medical practitioners, nurses, school teachers, and nursery staff. The collaborative project aims to use the hospice to create an environment that is community friendly and fully supported by the public…read more

From ehospice.

Commencement of Home Base Palliative Care Service in Colombo and Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Written by Cancer Care Association Sri Lanka (CCASL) – APHN Editorial Team (Sri Lanka)

In commemoration of the World Cancer Day which falls on 4th February of every year, Cancer Care Association Sri Lanka (CCASL) expanded its Home Based Palliative Care Service (HBPCS), first of its kind to treat Sri Lankan underprivileged cancer patients, to the districts of Colombo and Anuradhapura.

This service was first inaugurated in the district of Gall, in southern Sri Lanka, by the Karapitiya branch of CCASL under the guidance of Dr. Samadhi Rajapaksa (current president of CCASL) and Dr. Iresh Jayaweera (then president of the Karapitiya branch). The objective of HBPCS is to treat palliative cancer patients in the comfort of their own home and amongst loved ones.

A team of volunteers comprising of a medical doctor, a nurse and trained palliative care practitioners from CCASL visit the homes of cancer patients in need of palliative treatments, mostly in remote areas. They engage in activities such as pain management, treating cancer related wounds and bed sores, monitoring the vital signs of patients such as blood pressure, blood glucose level etc., administering relevant drugs (done by the medical practitioner accompanied by the team) and most importantly religious activities such as meditation, counseling etc., to uplift the spiritual well being of the patient (which is of utmost importance, at the palliative care stage).

Hence on 4th February 2015 (World Cancer Day), the CCASL Home Based Palliative Care team visited pre-identified patients in the districts of Colombo and Anuradhapura to inaugurate the expansion of its services to the above mentioned districts. A total of four patients were visited within two days and the patient feedback was immensely positive and highly commendable. CCASL will continue to provide similar services to the underprivileged cancer patients of Sri Lanka, in months to come.

Given below are some pictures of the event.

Story1  Story2
Dr. Iresh Jayaweera and Dr. Samadhi Rajapaksa treating the patients









Home Base Palliative Care Team during a home visit in Anuradhapura

Story5 Story4

Patient monitoring and counselling 

Brought to you by APHN Editorial Team (Sri Lanka) : Dr. Samadhi Rajapaksa (President, CCASL); Mr. Hasitha Premathilake (Secretary, CCASL); Dr. Iresh Jayaweera (Chief Organizer, CCASL)

SHC-LCPC Multidisciplinary Forum – Advance Care Planning: Care and Communication in Palliative Care


An update on hospice and palliative care in Malaysia

A new year beckons although it is preceded by a slew of human tragedies both in Malaysia and the world over. Torrential floods and the tragedies affecting Malaysian linked airlines in these past months bring sadness and grief to many in our communities. The economic situation is also a concern to many this year.So what does it mean to us within the palliative care arena? What will be the burden of disease that Malaysians will face this year? Are we dreading the possibility that we may have a serious illness? And if so, what is the level of capacity and standard of the medical services available in the country?

A report by the Economic Intelligence Unit on Healthcare Outcomes for 2014 saw Malaysia ranked 80/166 countries surveyed. What does this mean for us and for our loved ones if illness affects us in 2015?

The work of Hospis Malaysia

In the past year, Hospis Malaysia was referred 2,094 patients, an increase of 20% from 2013. The number of cases at any time under our care is usually between 400 and 450 patients spread across all sections of our society. Many cases are still referred at a very late stage.

Do Malaysians in need of palliative care have access to a standard of palliative care that could make a meaningful difference to their lives? In considering this, several questions should be asked.

In the descriptive context, what is the coverage of palliative care in Malaysia? What is the range of services available? These could include types of illnesses covered, hospital and community based care, government, charity or private facilities. Are there facilities for emergency care, either at home or in hospital? Read more

From ehospice

SHC – LCPC Forum: Perspectives of the Elderly on Spirituality

Perspectives of the Elderly on Spirituality – A Qualitative Survey on Admitted Elderly

By Ms. Tan Mei Hong, Staff Nurse, Alexandra Hospital, Singapore

Summary of talk by: Ng Shi Hui

In her presentation, Ms. Tan sought to communicate to her audience her findings regarding the perspectives that the elderly (aged 65 to 85) in Singapore have regarding spirituality. She decided to embark on this study for she realized from her personal experiences that attending to a patient’s spirituality remains neglected in practice. Furthermore, while studies have been conducted in other Western countries regarding the role of healthcare providers as spiritual care providers, this has remained a vastly untouched topic in the Singapore healthcare system. Seeking to address this literature gap in Asian societies, she hence decided to conduct this study.

She highlighted the significance of spirituality in older adults, as it serves as a coping mechanism in dealing with problems and has been proven to lead to positive physical and mental health outcomes, such as the reduced occurrences of depression and anxiety in these older patients. She conducted this study by interviewing patients who have been admitted into the hospital for at least 2 days, and who have been certified by their attending physicians as fit for these interviews. These interviews were audio recorded for accuracy.

These interviews revealed certain themes regarding the elderly’s perspectives on spirituality, one of which would be that many of the elderly see their spirituality as a divine moral compass. They believe that there is a higher power guiding their life decisions. Such guidance allows them to navigate the decisions they have to make in their lives in order to be what these higher powers perceive as a good person. These notions on spirituality have allowed these elderly to respect other people’s religion and accord to them a sense of purpose in their lives. Such also allows them to believe that they will therefore die a good death, which was evident when one participant said that ‘when I die I go to heaven’. Spirituality hence strengthens the elderly’s coping mechanisms with respect to making sense of their illness, and many have stated that they find peace and relief in praying or chanting. It serves as a buffering factor in allowing the elderly to accept their choices in life so that they start to accept the fact that their time is running short.

When asked about their expectations of healthcare professionals as spiritual care providers, however, many of the elderly were pessimistic. They feel that there will be a conflict between science and spirituality for they view hospitals as a place to become physically well through technology and proven knowledge. They feel that when receiving health treatments, the main concern should be resolving their medical issues and not addressing their spiritual needs. Some also voiced the possibility of the emergence of mistrust towards medical science when science and spirituality are mixed together, and it may even give the impression to patients that spirituality is more important than science when receiving healthcare. Spirituality is also a sensitive matter – many have differing beliefs and religious systems. Should their healthcare professionals’ beliefs run counter to that of the elderly patients’, they are afraid that they will become proselytized. It is interesting to note that even if the healthcare provider is of the same religion, many have expressed discomfort in receiving spiritual care from these healthcare providers.

From this study, it can be therefore seen that receptivity is crucial in the provision of spiritual care to patients effectively. Furthermore, Ms. Tan has highlighted that fact that patients understand spirituality differently and that it is a very abstract concept, so this can become a roadblock in attempting to address their spiritual needs. Spirituality also does not equate to religion, although many may feel that way, for Ms. Tan has gathered that spirituality is very much an innate concept in many patients and patients who do not have religions may still require spiritual help. This evidently shows the abstract nature of spirituality. Therefore, to address a patients’ spiritual needs, it has been suggested that healthcare professionals can act as a bridge between patients and resources, instead of providing the resources themselves.

Many limitations have also been highlighted when healthcare professionals provide spiritual care to elderly patients. For one, personal factors pertaining to the healthcare professionals may affect the effectiveness of spiritual care. If healthcare professionals themselves have spiritual problems and unresolved issues, they can scarcely help patients. Organizational factors, such as the workload and workscope of doctors present themselves as a limitation as well. Besides that, patients who are associated with a religion also lament the lack of privacy in wards, which makes it extremely unconducive for them to perform prayers or other religious practices.

Moving forward, Ms. Tan feels that the medical community can undertake spiritual assessments to better understand the unique spirituality perspectives and needs of patients. Healthcare professionals can be provided with more training on providing appropriate spiritual care. Hospitals can also do their part by providing more conducive places for prayers and by seeking to understand their needs (such as providing to them the Mecca direction). In terms of research, Ms. Tan has highlighted the need to recruit participants from multiple geographical locations and different healthcare settings in future studies for her study was limited to one hospital due to logistical constraints. There can also be the exploration of differences in spirituality perspectives between males and females, and also studies to ascertain differences among different ethnic and religious groups.

In conclusion, while much still needs to be done in ensuring adequate spiritual care of elderly patients, much about spirituality has not been properly studied and great care should be taken when providing spiritual services for it presents itself as an extremely sensitive topic to elderly patients, some of whom may be staunch in certain beliefs.

For more information on the LCPC forums, please visit their website at

Online platform matches IT volunteers with NGOs


A group of Hungarian IT professionals has developed a free platform to connect charities with a community of IT volunteers who can help NGOs cut their technology spending.

The service, run by the #Charity platform, is available worldwide. It aims to match charities with people who can work on websites, apps and online games that can contribute towards fundraising….read more.
More information can be obtain from their website

From ehospice

INCB Annual report reveals that 5.5 billion people worldwide lack access to essential pain relief

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has launched its Annual Report for 2014, which reveals that around 5.5 billion people – or 75% of the world’s population – have limited or no access proper pain relief treatment.

The report, launched on 5th March in London, UK,

  • calls for ensuring access to essential medicines, including in emergency and conflict situations;
  • draws attention to the continued threat posed by new psychoactive substances and
  • growing use of methylphenidate;
  • alerts about deviations from the international drug control conventions; and
  • calls for a balanced approach to drug control, greater demand reduction efforts, respect for human rights, and renews appeal for abolishing the death penalty for drug-related offences.

Read more here or alternatively, click here for INCB’s full report.

From ehospice

New programme to support older people in Dhaka, Bangladesh

110315World Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) and The Centre for Palliative Care, Bangladesh, part of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), have secured funding for a one-year pilot project starting in April 2015. The project will extend outreach palliative care services into two urban slums in Dhaka. It is expected that they will reach 100 older people and their families with palliative care services through this exciting new collaboration.

For more information on programme, please contact

From Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Online e-newsletter

Article summarized by Sherilyn Seah for APHN

Improving access to opioid medicines in Vietnam

Important progress is being made towards the safe accessibility of opioid medicines in Vietnam.

Madame Nguyen Thi Phuong Cham, formerly a pharmacist in the Ministry of Health in Vietnam, and a Pain and Policy Studies Group Fellow, has published research in the Journal of Pain & Symptom Management, entitled: Toward safe accessibility of opioid pain medicines in Vietnam and other developing countries: a balanced policy method.As reported on the Pain Policy blog:

“Some important positive outcomes of this work include:

  • the MoH improved access to opioids by removing a maximum dose of opioids per day and allowing pain patients, in addition to cancer and AIDS patients, to receive an opioid prescription for up to seven days per prescription
  • morphine consumption has increased each year, and as of 2010 was nine-fold greater than in 2003; and
  • the number of hospitals offering palliative care has increased from 3 to 15.” … read more.
From ehospice.