With 32 palliative beds, the iris Network has a large capacity available for end-of-life care. For about ten years, the Network has been developing a new approach to palliative care which, in the early years, had taken a non-interventionist line. This new direction, also known as “palliative and supportive care” encompasses both the global treatment of symptoms and more specific treatments (including, in the case of oncology for example, options of chemotherapy and radiotherapy) as well as management of the psychological and social aspects that are key to ensuring the best possible continuity of care for the patient, while avoiding any break with their normal environment.
As we understand increasingly more about its impact, hospital hygiene has become an absolute priority for iris Network hospitals. We have dedicated teams whose task it is to maintain the highest levels of hospital hygiene in order to prevent hospital-acquired infections. This preventive approach involves constant monitoring, raising the awareness of hospital staff (with regard to hand washing for example) as well as close collaboration between hospital hygienists and patients and their relatives.
More recently, the iris Network has been devoting increased attention to the question of nutrition. Scientific research has shown the key role this plays in the management and evolution of illness at all levels, from children to the elderly. The Network’s dietary and nutrition service seeks to ensure that all patients receive balanced nutrition, including in specific situations such as cachexia and anorexia, which are frequently encountered in chronic conditions but also in oncology and geriatrics.
Pain is not inevitable
Since the 1980s, on the initiative of our oncology departments, the iris Network has developed a specific approach to pain which, for many years, had been the poor cousin of medicine and now applies the principle established at the 1986 WHO conference: pain can and must be controlled. Today, pain is no longer considered to be just another symptom but a pathological entity and one that deserves to be addressed as such. Research has in fact shown that treatment for pain is less deleterious to the evolution of illness than pain itself.
Today, the expertise of the IRIS Network makes it one of the reference centres for pain management both in Belgium and in Europe. It also trains many specialists in this field.