Reflections on Listening, Learning, & Leading: Shaping the Future of Palliative Care

 By Jennifer Moore Ballentine, MA, CEO

June 2, 2023

CCCC’s 15th Annual Summit wrapped up Friday, May 19, and the evaluations are rolling in. Because almost all the planning and programming was done prior to my arrival as CEO in November, I can brag on the event and the staff who pulled it off with impunity. I think it was amazing. And almost all the participants who’ve submitted evaluations agree! 

In a widely diverse crowd, a few people are inevitably unhappy with some aspect of the program, but out of 123 responses received so far (full registration was about 270), 82% were Very Satisfied with the conference and only one was any less than Somewhat Satisfied. No one said they were “dissatisfied” overall. (Though there were a few inevitable complaints – and just as many or more compliments – about the food and the cool temperature of the meeting rooms. Folks, we gave you BLANKETS!!!!)

The top-rated sessions (in terms of how many folks cited them as the “MOST useful”) were the opening plenary by Dr. Wes Ely in an ICU physician’s perspectives on palliative care and the second-day plenary by Alain Durocher and Deborah Cruse on “Beyond Advance Care Planning.” Notably, however, 37 different topics were top rated by at least one participant – out of 54 including plenaries, breakout sessions, side events, and interactives. That says to me we got it right – there was, indeed, something for everyone and almost everything really hit home for someone. 

I, like many of you, wish I could have cloned myself and attended all the breakouts to hear about the great work being done in the state around shaping the future of palliative care. I’m very much looking forward to the full results from the California Health Care Foundation’s capstone project. I was impressed by the diversity of the offerings and the settings, disciplines, and approaches represented. Just among the plenary presenters, we had a physician, ethicist, attorney, foundation program officer, consultants, state agency officers, and a journalist. Interactives spanned topics from discipline-specific special interest groups to psychedelic-assisted therapies to state and federal policy to chair yoga. 

More than anything though, what struck me was the profound grace in just being together. Three-plus years on, we are still emerging from our pandemic shells, and it was inspiring and rewarding to see so many happy reunions, vigorous debates, eager learners, and warm laughter. In an era now faced with deep fakes, chat-bots, and avatars, I believe I’m not the only one relishing the uniquely human connection of a gathering of like minds and beating hearts. So if you were there with us, thank you! If you missed it, we hope to see you next year!

Speaking of which, we also received substantive and abundant suggestions for our next Summit, which we’re looking at closely and have already begun to take into account as we begin planning for April 2024 in Sacramento! Keep your eyes peeled for the Call for Proposals, which will go out next week. In the newsletter, you’ll see an official announcement of the ACP Innovation Award inspired by the ACP plenary and audience feedback. We’re excited!