The theme of this year’s World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is: Universal Health Coverage and Palliative Care: Don’t leave those suffering behind! As Stephen Connor explained in his post last week, “Central to Universal Health Coverage is a focus on equity: ALL people must be able to access these services.” And raising awareness of palliative care is crucial to widening access.
To celebrate this year’s event, a project to promote palliative care in primary care and the community, teamed up with their local football team. Dr. Santiago Corrêa and Carla Mazuko of ‘Estar ao Seu Lado – Cuidados Paliativos na Atenção Primária,’ Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, explain.
Our preparations for this year’s World Day included close cooperation with our local football team, Sport Club São Paulo. Why? – Because football moves passion beyond borders.
“When we go onto the pitch we are looking for victory,” – Obdulio Varela, captain of Uruguay´s national team, talking about the victory over Brazil in the final game of the World Cup in 1950. His classic statement at the beginning of the match: “Los de afuera son de palo, que comience la función,” (translated literally as “The crowd are of wood, let the show begin,” meaning don’t be intimidated by the crowd, resulted in a win for Uruguay and represents the idea that if you try your hardest you will overcome obstacles and, at the end, win the hardest game.
Using the potential of that passion, football can be an effective tool to share the message of a better way of caring. That’s why our project teamed up with Sport Club São Paulo, a Brazilian football team from Rio Grande, Rio Grande do Sul. Raising awareness about palliative care and promoting it within the community is the key to the future of palliative care. We need to offer a new public health approach, as demonstrated by the Compassionate Community concept where the whole community: family, neighbours, local organisations, and healthcare providers work together in a particular area to support patients and families. The future of palliative care has a border beyond its professional work. The communities and their circles of care must be part of the routine.
We need to use existing structures of our society to improve awareness about the idea of end-of-life care. Schools, churches, and other institutions need to be used to build compassionate communities. Football can be a very good promoter of that message if used with that objective.
How we scored a goal for palliative care …
On Sunday, October 8, we held our World Hospice and Palliative Care Day inside a football stadium. It coincided with a birthday celebration of our local team, Sport Club São Paulo, which ensured maximum attendance! As well as a tournament for the children, we organised games to explain the meaning of palliative care. We introduced concepts such as pain scales, circles of care and trajectories but these were transformed into games, for example, coloured wheels, a game of roulette and a fishing game.
Through these games we began to explain these concepts with children and families. The lady pictured below is our community health worker who plays an important part in getting our message across. Judging by the engagement of the children and families and the conversations we had, I think we achieved our goal to spread the message of palliative care and to make the community a lasting part of it.
Recently in the UK, there were good examples of the potential of football to promote the idea of care. Bradley Lowery, a six-year-old football fan from Sunderland whose courage during his terminal illness united football teams and fans in raising funds and awareness, is the best example. In Brazil, we have passionate football fans who could apply the same idea to help other people.
As Obdulio Varela said, we must look for victory when go onto the pitch. To win the game, we need to unite our efforts to help more people to have access to palliative care who need it. And we need to use the community as a focus for palliative care – the community should be our captain and we should follow it until the final victory. Using the example of Uruguay’s national team in 1950, we can achieve better end-of-life care if we put the greatest effort into it.
Links and resources
- Projeto ‘Estar ao Seu Lado – Cuidados Paliativos na Atenção Primária’ Facebook page.
- Contact Dr Santiago Corrêa by email.
- Abel J, Walter T, Carey L B et al. (2013) Circles of care: should community development redefine the practice of palliative care? BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care 3: 383-388.
- Public Health Palliative Care International: Creating compassionate communities website.
- New Health Foundation.
- Add your event to the World Day map.
- Read more posts about World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on the EAPC Blog.
- Read an earlier post about football and palliative care on the EAPC Blog. ‘Soccer and quality of life: The match of life’ by Jordi Royo.
And for football fans, here’s a link (with English subtitles) to a video clip of the 1950 World Cup final and how the Uruguay team’s huge effort won the match!
We’ll be publishing exciting news from Kerala in celebration of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day later this week on the EAPC Blog.