Palliative Care History
Right from ancient times, society has been doing its bit to take care of people who were dying and helping the family cope with the death of a loved one. In ancient China, there were special homes known as death houses that allowed destitute people who were dying to come and live. According to the customs followed by the Maoris in New Zealand, the family of the dead person is given support in all possible ways and the entire tribe joins in the mourning. And, in East Africa, the seniors of the tribe offer spiritual and other practical support to the dying person and their family. So, palliative care has been present in our society from ancient times.
Right till the nineteenth century, Europe and the US believed that the family and church should be responsible for taking care of person who is dying and they should also help the loved ones cope with the situation. It was only in the 20th century that the society began realizing that the process of dying had to be handled medically and was not the responsibility of the religious leaders or family.
Today, the US has more than three thousand programs that offer palliative care as well as hospice care to people who have life-threatening and terminal illnesses and diseases. Doctors and other health care professionals work together as a team to ensure that the dying patient is comfortable and their quality of life is enhanced. Ironically, when palliative care started, it was not part of hospice care.
In the fourth century, hospice was a place for travelers to rest and recoup after traveling for many days on rough terrain. Thereafter, in the nineteenth century, hospices were set up for those who were dying by religious organizations in London and Ireland. The first hospice was established in the year 1967 in London by Dame Cicely Saunders. This hospice was called St. Christopher’s Hospice. It is after the setting up of this hospice that others opened up and began providing palliative care to those who were serious ill or dying.
Initially, however, palliative care in hospices was given by volunteers. But as time went by, it became an important part of the healthcare industry. The first hospitals to offer palliative care to patients were the Medical College of Wisconsin and Cleveland Clinic. They began offering this care in the latter half of the 1980s. Today, millions of people opt for palliative care in the US either at hospices, nursing homes, hospitals or homes. They provide care 24-hours a day to patients who maybe dying or suffering from a serious illness or disease.
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Hospice Education Institute: History of Hospice and Palliative Care
News Medical: Palliative Care History