Overseas Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Professor Carl Becker

Professor Carl Becker received his MA in Comparative Philosophy at the East-West Center of the University of Hawaii in 1973, his PhD from the University of Hawaii in 1981. He has also studied in India and Japan.

He has taught Asian Philosophy at Southern Illinois University, Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii and Comparative Thought at Japan’s National Osaka, Tsukuba, and Kyoto Universities. He became the first American to be fully tenured and promoted as a civil servant within the Japanese national university system.

Since becoming a professor in Japan, he has periodically given guest lectures at the University of Hawaii Department of Philosophy, at the East-West Philosophers’ Conference, and hosts exchanges between educators in Hawaii and Japan. He has also participated in projects of Japan’s Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Education. He is regularly consulted by the media on medical ethics in Japan. 

Currently, Dr. Becker is Specially Appointed Professor of the Policy Science Unit of Kyoto University, located within the School of Medicine, where his research has focused on medical ethics at the end of life, and psycho-social support for terminal patients.

He is a director of the Japan Society for Medicine and Philosophy, the Japan Society for Spiritual Care, the Japan Society for Mind-Body Science, the Society for Biothanatology, the Society for the History of Medicine, and the Japan Religious Studies Association.  He serves on the editorial board of the Journals of Near-Death Studies and Mortality.  He is also a member of the International Workgroup for Death, Dying and Bereavement.

For his contribution to cross-cultural understanding, Professor Becker received an award in 1986 from the Society for International Education, Teaching and Research. And for his work in comparative studies of death and dying, he was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the Bombay International University. I just learnt yesterday that he went to Russia last month to accept his Honorary PhD in Psychology awarded by the Institute of Psychology, for his counselling work in bereavement and suicide.

Opening Keynote: Why We Need Grief Care and How to Do It

The keynote will address pertinent questions any community serious about providing grief care should ask:

  1. Who needs grief care and why?
  2. What theories have been developed on grief care?
  3. What kind of methods are helpful for grief care?
  4. Who should play a role in supporting the bereaved?
  5. How and why we need to measure effectiveness of care?

Plenary 3: Building A Community of Support – Local & Regional Experiences

Japan’s Struggle to Enfranchise Grief Care

This talk overviews some evidence on the efficacy of grief care interventions from several experimental projects. Grief care uses people, time, money, buildings and many other resources. Should hospitals or governments spend money on grief care? Grief and bereavement support are seldom provided in mainstream hospital service because evidence on the value of grief care seems inconclusive. We need to match the types of grief care to mourners’ needs.  Some experiments suggest that grief care reduce stress. Other data suggests that proper intervention may raise a sense of coherence (SoC). Lowering stress and raising SoC reduce health care costs.

Keynote Speaker

Mrs Debbie Kerslake

Mrs Debbie Kerslake joined Cruse Bereavement Care, the UK’s leading bereavement care organisation in 1999, becoming Chief Executive in 2008.  A passionate advocate of collaborative working, Debbie has played a key role in working with multiple stakeholders to raise awareness of the needs of bereaved people, improve access to bereavement support and develop bereavement care service standards. During her ten years as Cruse CEO Debbie focused on developing the range of services offered including extending the provision of peer support; enhancing training provision and reaching under-represented groups. Cruse now reaches over half a million people every year. Closing Keynote: The Experience of UK and Cruse Bereavement Centre in Working with Different Voices

This keynote will draw on the experience of the UK exploring how bereavement care can be designed, delivered, evaluated and developed, drawing on diverse voices. This will include those who are bereaved including groups who traditionally may be disenfranchised as well as the collective voices of providers and individuals who provide support in a range of different ways. It will look at how the largest bereavement care organisation Cruse Bereavement Care has developed and continues to adapt to address the many challenges presented and better meet the changing needs of bereaved people. As Cruse approaches its 60th anniversary key lessons will be considered including:

  • What makes a quality service?
  • How can under-represented groups be reached?
  • How can the right support be provided at the right time?
  • How can we work together to provide a community of support?

Plenary Speaker

Ms Connie Chu  


Ms Connie Chu joined the Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care (SPHC) in 2015 as Chief Operating Officer responsible for leading and delivering the new palliative and hospice service model in the Jockey Club Home for Hospice (JCHH). She has been working in the development of JCHH’s service model, and the implementation of the family-orientated hospice and palliative care. Registered in 1990, Ms Chu was appointed Nurse Specialist (Gerontology) in 1997 by the Hong Kong Hospital Authority and appointed as Honorary Assistant Professor, Hong Kong University. She has led many new service launches and conducted reviews across Hong Kong’s public hospitals that identified gaps for on-going improvement of hospital services in Hong Kong. Her expertise ranges from palliative and hospice care, frail elderly people home care, chronic wound care, to healthcare quality and risk management, and hospital accreditation implementation. Plenary 3: Building A Community of Support – Local & Regional Experiences

Supporting the Grieving and Bereaved: The Experience of SPHC, Hong Kong

The provision of high quality grieving support is one of the key elements in end-of-life care service. Healthcare professionals are trained to be sensitive to handle both the patient and family members’ physical and emotional needs during this very stressful and difficult grieving period. Recent research has shown that the family caregivers often experience a sense of “void” following the withdrawal of professional support after the patient’s passing. The sad memories further influence the longer-term health of bereaved people.

The implementation of a family-oriented model aims to link up the caring for a loved one at the end-of-life and its effect on family’s bereavement experiences. Early engagement with patient’s family in discussing matters related to the death can address their concerns and subsequently reduce impact on the grieving process.

We all will die, yet timing is uncertain. When death is anticipated and expected, bereavement support should begin.