What end of life experiences do Hong Kong and New Zealand have in common?

chinese university of Hong Kong

Jackie Robinson writes about her visit to the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Nethersole School of Nursing in June…

“Like New Zealand, Hong Kong is experiencing an ageing population and this is putting significant pressure on how palliative care is provided particularly in acute hospitals and aged residential care settings.”

Last year I was awarded grants from the International Central Networks and Partnerships and the Mobility Scheme to support a visit to the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). The purpose of this visit was to explore opportunities for collaboration on research related to palliative and end of life care for Chinese people living in New Zealand.

Auckland has the largest Chinese population in New Zealand and this is predicted to grow significantly over the next decade.  Palliative care is provided from within a Western model which does not always align well with Chinese people’s beliefs about death and dying.  These differences can result in tensions between patients, families and health professionals.

Professor Carmen Chan and the Head of School, Professor Sek-Ying Chair hosted my visit to the CUHK’s Nethersole School of Nursing. They gave me an opportunity to present the Te Arai Palliative and End of Life Care Research Group’s programme of research and to meet with their Cancer and Palliative Care research group.

Sharing the work both universities are doing highlighted a number of similarities and differences between the countries. Like New Zealand, Hong Kong is experiencing an ageing population and this is putting significant pressure on how palliative care is provided particularly in acute hospitals and aged residential care settings.

However, in Hong Kong over 90% of people die in an acute hospital setting and many are transferred to the hospital from residential care in the last days of their life. Community care is limited with many people paying for private nursing care in the home and access to hospice beds is difficult, with only 350 beds for a population of over 45,000 people.

In addition to discussions regarding our research programs, I met with Associate Professor Winnie So who is the Director of their post-graduate nursing program.  They are currently reviewing their program and were particularly interested in our specialty practice courses and the pathway for nurses to prepare for extended and advanced practice roles.

In Hong Kong, there is currently no vocational registration for nurses in advanced roles such as we have in New Zealand with the Nurse Practitioner role.  I was very interested in how the academic environment in Hong Kong supports nurses with their career advancement. It aligns their post-graduate programme directly with what nurses require in the workplace in terms of leadership and management.

Their nursing doctorate is a good example of this, supporting nurses to broaden their clinical and academic expertise in advanced nursing practice, clinical leadership and evidence based practice.  The primary purpose of this program is to prepare students for leadership roles in healthcare.

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