ChrisChats | Chris O'Brien Lifehouse
 In Lifehouse News

In the 10 years since Prof Chris O’Brien AO’s death in June 2009, the surgeon’s vision of a hospital founded on the principle of holistic, patient-centred compassionate care has become a reality.

This month, we’ve assembled a team of experts from Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to talk about how we keep ourselves true to this vision. We look back over the changes in Chris O’Brien’s area of expertise, head and neck cancer, and forward to the latest developments in cancer treatment.

Hear from people who worked closely with Chris, and from others who exemplify his vision despite never having met him. You’ll have the chance to ask questions and chat to specialists from a wide range of disciplines.

Our ChrisChats run from Monday 3 to Friday 7 June, with an extra-special ChrisChat taking place on 28 June. Randal Weber MD is the Chief Patient Experience Officer at MD Anderson Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Texas and he will share how he and his team strive to offer their patients the best possible experience they can.

Here’s the program of talks.

Monday 3 June

11:00 to 12:00

Chris O’Brien’s legacy in head and neck cancer treatment

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is the most visible part of Prof Chris O’Brien’s legacy. But his impact extends to areas that are less conspicuous while just as important.

Before Chris O’Brien Lifehouse was ever envisioned, Chris was a renowned surgeon and respected leader in head and neck cancer treatment. He established the multidisciplinary team approach as standard practice, led influential cancer research, and was an exemplary role model and teacher for the next generation of doctors, nurses and other clinicians.

Bringing together those who know Chris’s work and legacy best, we will reflect on working with him and how head and neck cancer practice has developed through his influence and since he died.

Hear from head and neck cancer surgeons A/Prof Carsten Palme and Prof Jonathan Clark, and head and neck cancer nurse practitioners Justine Oates and Sarah Davies.

Tuesday 4 June

12:00 – 1.00

Creating a culture of compassion

Prof Chris O’Brien was known for the compassion with which he treated every patient. He encouraged his colleagues and trainees to treat every patient as if they were their own family.

As Chris O’Brien Lifehouse works to instil compassion not only in individuals but as an organisation, Juliette O’Brien will interview two leading voices on compassion in healthcare – Gail O’Brien AO and A/Prof Chris Milross.

What does compassion in healthcare actually mean? What does it look like – in the consultant’s office, the patient’s room, and the hospital at large? How can compassion be institutionalised and become a part of an organisation’s culture?

And finally, it’s not all one way. How can medical professionals practise compassion towards themselves?

Wednesday 5 June

12:00 – 1.00

Healing through art and music

Humanity and compassion are central to the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse model of care. Walking into the cancer hospital on any day, it is filled with art, music and life.

Why do we have art and music in a hospital? What do they bring to cancer patients and the people around them?

Listen to Deborah Burdett, Co-founder of the Arterie Art Engagement Program, and Jack Thomas, Music Therapist, discussing the impact of art and music on the psychological, emotional and social wellbeing of people living with cancer.

Thursday 6 June

12:00 – 1.00

Body and mind: treating more than the disease

When Chris O’Brien was approaching the end of his life, a journalist asked him what he had learnt. His response; “That cancer care needs to be holistic.”

Cancer affects a person in many more ways than just the physical. Emotional and psychological effects can include anxiety, fear and difficulty coping with uncertainty.

Our philosophy at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is to treat the whole person, not just the disease. Head of integrative oncology and supportive care Dr Judith Lacey and psych-oncologist Dr Toni Lindsay explore the many ways we support people with cancer, beyond the physical.

Friday 7 June

12:00 – 1.00

New hope through personalised medicine

Cancer treatment has advanced enormously in the 10 years since Chris O’Brien died, particularly in the field of oncology.

Personalised medicine is an area showing great promise through novel approaches like genome sequencing, targeted therapies and liquid biopsies.

A/Prof Ruta Gupta and Dr Mun Hui will explore some of the exciting options bringing hope to cancer patients.

Friday 28 June

11:00 – 12:00

Putting the patient at the heart of everything we do

Randal Weber MD is a well-known head and neck surgeon at the renowned MD Anderson Comprehensive Cancer Centre at the University of Texas.

He recently transitioned to a new role as MD Anderson’s chief patient experience officer. Visiting from the USA to speak at the inaugural Chris O’Brien Symposium, Dr Weber will give a special ChrisChat on the subject of patient experience.

Dr Weber will share his passion for patient care and why he and his staff strive to offer patients the best possible healthcare experience.

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