Cicely Saunders (Author of Watch With Me)
Dame Cicely Saunders and the hospice vision – is hospice fit for the 21st Century?
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Dame Cicely Saunders was born a century ago, on 22 June , and over the course of her life undertook a number of roles, as a nurse, medical social worker, doctor and research lead, in order to develop and deliver her vision of palliative care. It was here that Cicely was able to develop the approach which has been adopted worldwide and continues to lie at the heart of care for the dying; that patients need spiritual, emotional and social support, as well as effective pain relief, at the end of life. In recognition of her significant services to the field of palliative care, Cicely was made a Dame of the British Empire in and awarded the Order of Merit in She established the charity that would become Cicely Saunders International in and worked actively for the creation of a centre housing research, education, information provision and clinical care. An inspiring force for change and a natural leader, Cicely Saunders radically improved clinical practice for people at the end of life and paved the way for a more holistic model of person-centered care.
We are dedicated to improving care for dying people everywhere. Dame Cicely Saunders. Born 22 June in Barnet, Hertfordshire, Dame Cicely trained as a nurse, a medical social worker and finally as a physician. Involved with the care of patients with terminal illness since , she lectured widely on this subject, wrote many articles and contributed to numerous books. Her vision to establish her own home for the dying was underpinned by her religious faith. Dame Cicely is recognised as the founder of the modern hospice movement and received many honours and awards for her work. She held more than 25 honorary degrees, from the UK and overseas.
Reproduced with permission from Hayward Medical Communications. Dame Cicely Saunders. I like it because of her smile and because it shows her still at work — in fact giving prizes to hospice staff — though it was taken in when she was 83, just four years before her death. She trained as a nurse, then as a social worker, and it was then that she met David Tasma, a young Polish Jew, who was dying of cancer. It was through her friendship with him that God called her to devote her life to improving the care of the dying — a most neglected group. She then trained in medicine and that was where I met her — we were contemporaries at medical school. I wish, for your sake, that she could have given this talk on pioneering days.
Dr Mary Baines reflects on the pioneering days of palliative care.
She is noted for her work in terminal care research and her role in the birth of the hospice movement , emphasising the importance of palliative care in modern medicine. After attending Roedean School , Saunders began studying politics, philosophy, and economics at St Anne's College, Oxford in During the war, she decided to become a nurse and trained at Nightingale School of Nursing based at St Thomas's Hospital from — In , Saunders fell in love with a patient, David Tasma, a Polish-Jewish refugee who, having escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto , worked as a waiter; he was dying of cancer. While training for social work , she holidayed with some Christians and was converted to Christianity. In the late s, Saunders began working part-time at St Luke's Home for the Dying Poor in Bayswater , and it was partly this which, in , led her to begin study to become a physician. A year later, she began working at St Joseph's Hospice, a Catholic establishment in Hackney, East London , where she would remain for seven years, researching pain control.
It is largely thanks to her interventions that palliative care is what it is today. Coming from a well-off background her parents were not keen on getting into nursing, but it was where she found her calling, especially with the Second World War around the corner. A bad back prevented her from pursuing nursing more fully, however, directing her steps towards social work. The third Polish love of her life would come along three years later. He had an estranged wife in Poland, but the friendship with Dame Cicely grew as the pair began writing to one another.
Cicely Saunders founded the first modern hospice and, more than anybody else, was responsible for establishing the discipline and the culture of palliative care. She introduced effective pain management and insisted that dying people needed dignity, compassion, and respect, as well as rigorous scientific methodology in the testing of treatments. St Christopher's Hospice opened in south west London in It is now one of many but is still the leader in the field. It was her personal achievement and has been imitated all over the world.