If you’ve ever wondered where to turn for guidance on building a compassionate community – here’s the answer. Libby Sallnow and Joachim Cohen, on behalf of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) Reference Group on Public Health and Palliative Care, explain.
The notion of investing in compassionate communities as a strategy to build capacity in society around death, dying, loss and care is gaining momentum across the world and remains more important than ever in the context of the current pandemic. To guide and facilitate the initiation of new compassionate community initiatives, the EAPC Reference Group on Public Health and Palliative Care and Public Health Palliative Care International (PHPCI) have created a new overview of existing resources and tools.
The compassionate community approach stems from the realisation that, in order to tackle the population health challenges surrounding serious illness, dying and loss, it does not suffice to solely invest in more specialised palliative care, engage more professional caregivers and improve health services. The greater part of people’s experiences of living with and dying from a serious illness, and providing informal care, takes place outside of the formal healthcare institutions. Hence, in order to improve these experiences, complementary strategies are needed that create a broader capacity development in care for the dying and support of those caring or grieving. Such strategies need to go beyond services and embrace the idea that end-of-life care is everyone’s responsibility.
Individuals, schools, workplaces, civic organisations, and local governments across the world are running with this idea and are engaging in a number of actions to develop compassionate communities. However, a common problem faced is the lack of resources that showcase such approaches in action, detailing how to build support for such approaches, how to initiate projects in different settings and what actions have worked before. Indeed, with the compassionate community movement being a relatively recent approach and with foundational work being done in various sites across the world, we felt the need to create an overview of the increasing number of resources and tools that now exist to support the field.
So where do you start to build a compassionate community?
Suppose you want to start up a compassionate community; to create a compassionate workplace, school or even a compassionate municipality or city… Or suppose you want to organise public events to increase awareness and openness around palliative care, or educate a general (lay) audience in palliative care and end of life aid skills. Where do you look for guidance and inspiration? This set of evolving collated resources draws on global experiences and is the place to start.
The resource page can be found here and we welcome suggestions and comments as it grows and develops. We want it to reflect current global practice so do please get in contact as new resources become available so we can ensure they are shared as widely as possible.
Links and resources
- Public Health Palliative Care International. (Including resources on developing compassionate communities with some relating to the Covid-19 crisis.)
- EAPC Reference Group on Public Health and Palliative Care.
- Abstracts invited for International Seminar on Public Health Research in Palliative Care: Towards Solutions for Global Challenges, 15 to 16 October 2020, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Abstract submission and registration here. Deadline for abstracts: 1 June 2020.
More about the authors
Libby Sallnow is Consultant in Palliative Medicine in London and Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at St Christopher’s Hospice and University College London (UCL). Contact Libby Sallnow by email. Follow Libby on Twitter @libby_sallnow
Joachim Cohen is Professor at the End-of-Life Care Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels. Contact Joachim Cohen by email. Follow the End-of-Life Research Group on Twitter @eolc_research