The Hospice Movement
One remarkable woman's impact on the way we care for the dying
Scale: More than 100,000 people volunteer in hospices in the UK
Cicely Saunders had worked with the dying for nearly two decades when she founded St. Christopher’s Hospice in 1967. Hospices were not a new concept, but Cicely presented a modern doctrine for understanding death and how care needed to change.
She introduced the concept of ‘total pain’, whereby the physical suffering is one factor amongst an array of personal and psychological torments that require care. This enabled the Hospice movement to understand that their role was one of broader pain management, both for the patient and their family.
Caring innovations, such as the provision of bereavement services for relatives, revolutionised the care available to people dealing with loss. Cicely’s methods remain a foundation of modern hospice care – she was made a Dame in 1979 and continued working right up to her death, in her own hospice, aged 87.
Her legacy is a fundamental cornerstone of a global network - specialist palliative care, informed by her ideas, now exists in more than 136 countries.