In the early afternoon of 19th April 2019, a group of people started to gather in a conference room at the Taiwan Medical Association in Taipei. That particular group of people were made up of palliative care professionals from six countries (Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan) who had been graciously invited by our Taiwan delegates to update the status of Advance Care Planning (ACP) in their respective countries and to sign the Taipei Declaration on ACP.
As people started to stream in, the room was filled with a cacophony of voices. A series of friendly exchanges were made, many amongst those who had only seen each other via Skype meetings. Once everyone had settled down, the meeting began with a welcome message from the President of Taiwan Medical Association, Dr. Tai-Yuan Chiu. He emphasised that the importance of this meeting was an opportunity to conduct face-to-face discussions with fellow palliative care professionals on the Asian Delphi Taskforce on ACP.
Following, the representatives from each of the six countries gave insightful presentations on the current status of ACP in their countries. Each presented their country’s unique perception and approach to ACP in terms of implementation, education, research, and future perspectives. One of the noticeable differences between countries were educational opportunities. Japan has implemented many projects, such as seminars for healthcare professionals, clinical questions of ACP as part of clinical practice guidelines and developed a card game on end-of-life (EOL) for the general public. In contrast, Indonesia has yet to integrate ACP into the curricula of medical education and there has not been specific training available for healthcare professionals on ACP. However, despite the different rates at which each country was progressing, it was heartening to see the effort that each country had put in to improve the quality of ACP.
At the end of the meeting, the ACP taskforce representatives signed the 2019 Taipei Declaration on Advance Care Planning: A Cultural Adaptation of End of Life Care Discussion. It was a momentous occasion as it signified the culmination of the efforts of the task force members from the six countries. The declaration was tailored accordingly to the Asian cultural context and it is hoped that all National Medical Professional Associations develop a national policy of various roles and tasks on palliative care and advance care planning based on the recommendations in the declaration.
Note: The 2019 Taipei Declaration on Advance Care Planning: A Cultural Adaptation of End of Life Care Discussion was sent for review and has now been accepted by the Journal of Palliative Medicine.
The next day, the members of the Asian Delphi task force met at the National Taiwan University Children’s Hospital to further discuss the ongoing research collaboration. One of the task force members, Mr. Lin Cheng-Pei began with his presentation on “The preliminary result of systematic review on advance care planning in Taiwan”. Next, the task force members launched into a discussion on the various recommended elements of ACP. Each element was carefully scrutinised and the members gave their opinions on how to improve the elements until they reached a consensus. After the discussion, everyone was taken on a tour of the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) and its International Outpatient Centre. Once the tour was over, everyone gathered to have lunch and the two-day forum concluded on a good note.
Written by: Trudy Giam (APHN Executive), Edited by: Ms Djin Lai (APHN Volunteer Editor)