Compassionate Cities are communities that recognise that all natural cycles of sickness and health, birth and death, and love and loss happen daily within the orbits of their institutions and regular activities. Compassionate Cities are communities that publicly encourage, facilitate, supports, and celebrates care for one another during life’s most testing moments and experiences, especially those pertaining to life-threatening and life-limiting illness. The theme for World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2023 is Compassionate Communities: Together for Palliative Care.
The Compassionate Cities model was developed by Prof Allan Kellehear. It provides a helpful way of thinking about the different people and organisations that should ideally be involved in work to create a more compassionate community. Starting a compassionate community begins with a conversation with like-minded people who are concerned about what is happening in their communities with the intention of finding a solution. That is the beginning of a compassionate community initiative.
The major community development initiatives associated with global palliative care tend to be known as compassionate communities or compassionate cities. Compassionate Communities tend to be neighbourhood programmes, that is, they are mostly groups of neighbours living close to each other in villages or suburban areas that come together to organise a way to support people in their own area who are living with life-limiting illnesses, caregiving or grief and loss. On the other hand, Compassionate Cities tend to be densely-populated urban organisations with complex and interlocking social sectors.
The Compassionate City Charter includes 13 steps that cities, towns or villages may take to publicly recognise those who are dying, caregiving or grieving and to make their locality a supportive and open place for these processes to take place. The Compassionate City Charter can be found here.
Compassionate communities are rooted in a health promotion approach to palliative care, aiming to support solidarity among community members at the end of life. Hundreds of compassionate communities have been developed internationally in recent years. As we plan for WHPCD 2023, let us begin to mobilise and organise compassionate communities and cities across the globe in our respective regions and communities. Please remember to add your World Day event on the WHPCD global map HERE. We would love to know where and when this day will be celebrated and let us all take part in building compassionate communities together for palliative care. You can also find the compassionate communities strengthening webinar HERE to help you prepare for World Day and also download the resources from the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) HERE.