Collaboration in palliative care much needed

31st Jan 2020

Sir, It was refreshing to read that the Editor had been to Rome for a conference on Palliative Care. This was jointly organised by the Qatar Foundation and the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life. I’m glad he devoted a full half-page to the proceedings.
These show that the world’s great religious faiths can indeed cooperate in developing the best possible care for the elderly and the dying. This is a current need in Britain, with more people living longer and more widespread dementia. The NHS is not yet fully equipped and trained to cope with this urgent need.
Macmillan nurses do splendid work in treating and caring for cancer patients in their own homes. Hospices aim to provide the best possible quality of life for people with a wide range of terminal illnesses. Some provide specialist service for children who cannot hope to live long. Since the Sisters of Charity and the late Dame Cicely Saunders pioneered hospices, in the north and south London respectively, the movement has spread to most parts of Britain, including Northern Ireland. It receives a proportion of state funding since it relieves the NHS and the geriatric wards. Each year, huge amounts of charitable money have to be raised to balance budgets, for what can be expensive 24-hour care and medication. Hospices also rely to a considerable extent on volunteers and visitors, who provide life-enhancing skills and a personal touch.
In all the word’s great cities, people are dying, many of them without the support of family or friends. In Calcutta Mother Teresa used to go round the slums, collecting those near death from the pavements, to receive a little love in the House of the Dying, during their last hours. She stopped teaching well-to-do children, to go and serve the poorest of the poor. She has since been recognised as a Saint by the Catholic Church.
It is clear that all members of all the great faiths, and many humanists, are cooperating to provide end-of-life care. A collaboration of this kind is now needed in many other situations, for example, the care and resettlement of refugees, migrants and prisoners; also in efforts to achieve the Millennium
Development Goals, thus ending absolute poverty.
I write this at the age of 87, hoping to encourage far greater cooperation between the faiths in all continents of our world The Ammerdown Centre (www.ammerdown.org) would be pleased to hear from people, who share my conviction.
Yours,
The Lord Hylton

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