A tribute to Cicely Saunders: the narrative of hospice care innovation by Francesca Bracco, David Clark and Heather Richardson – EUNAMES LECTURES (30/09/2022)

David Clark – by Francesca Bracco

First of all, I have to tell you that Professor David Clark, David, simply and kindly replied to an email I sent to him, after having found an email address of Glasgow University on internet… He has immediately been helpful and generous in answering me, so that I immediately thought: this man is really a gentleman, beside of being a famous Professor… Thank you, David!

Well, a quick look on his career, even if now he has retired since two years, as he told me: Professor of Medical Sociology at the University of Glasgow’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies in Dumfries, has wide-ranging interests in end of life issues in the global context. Adjunct Professor at the University of South Denmark, Visiting Researcher at the University of Navarra, Spain; Vice President of Hospice UK, has been a board member of the European Association for Palliative Cares. Many, many others degrees in the field of Palliative Cares and End of Life. But also… Author of a monograph on the history of palliative medicine from the nineteenth century entitled To comfort Always, published by Oxford University Press in 2016, of many articles and lectures that he may tell you personally later.

For me, but not only for me, the official, world famous biographer of Dame Cicely Saunders: the one who was so luck to spend lot of time with her along ten years, discussing and talking about her work, her thoughts, her values… The one who catalogued and choosed the Selection of letters to publish, always with Oxford University Press; who arranged her writings and made them easily findables for everyone who’s interested in Cicely’s extraordinary work with dying people and with St. Christopher’s Hospice; moreover, he was gently able to know thoroughly and draw Cicely’s personality, so well represented with many details on her family life, her youth, her studies, friendship, interests and so on, in the last book Cicely Saunders: A Life and a Legacy, published in 2018 to celebrate the centenary of her birth.

I’m looking forward to hearing directly from him what this lifelong experience with dearest Dame Cicely has meant for him and how the narrative with her influenced his work and his point of view on Palliative Cares… I leave you the word, dear David, to share with Eunames Collegues and Friends your true testimony on Cicely’s life and legacy.

A lifelong learning experience with Cicely Saunders by prof. David Clark

Cicely SaundersSelected. Writings 1958-2004
by Cicely Saunders
Cicely Saunders, Founder of the Hospice Movement. Selected Letters 1959-1999
by Cicely Saunders
Cicely Saunders: A Life and Legacy
by David Clark

Heather Richardson/St. Christopher’s Hospice – by Francesca Bracco

The same familiar and so appreciated kind answer to an email is the way I’ve got in touch with Dr. Heather Richardson, Education, Research and End of Life Policy Lead of the worldfamous St. Christopher’s Hospice of Sydenham, London.

Even from Heather, and from Dr. Andrew Goodhead, Lead for Bereavement, Spiritual Care and Quality, who unfortunately today cannot be with us, but who ensure to me he’ll join one of Eunames meetings in the next future, I received such a natural, but not taken for granted, availability and interest to be with us today, witnessing beloved Dame Cicely Saunders and her so meaningful creature: the St. Christopher’s, of course.

As an Assistance, Training and Research center so famous in all the world and so open to everyone who wants to learn, to practice or to visit it, the St. Christopher’s Hospice, opened in 1967 after 19 years from David Tasma’s legacy of 500 pounds to Cicely, is the lively inheritage of her and a very welcoming place.

I’ve been there seven years ago, in April 2015, for a morning of visit which is unforgettable for me: I felt so warmly welcomed from a volunteer, Anna Somerset, with whom I’m still in touch, and from the historical librarian, Denise Brady, who was so helpful in getting for me articles and suggesting me books to have for a deeper knowledge of dear Dame Cicely. We walked together through many pavillons, around the so well kept garden and the coloured Art-therapy Laboratory and then… through the Hospice, in silence, with softness, cared from the wonderful pictures of Marian Bohusz-Sziszko, the polish artist who has benne Cicely’s husband… At the end, a look at David’s Window, nearby the hall: “I’ll be a winfdow in your home” he said before dying and founding in this proposal the sense of his life.

Well, now Heather will talk to us about this wonderful place, where Care is now developped in several projects: the roots of Dame Cicely are obviuosly dinamically growing with the structure, the new scientific discoveries and the new times…

The voice of Saint Christophers by Heather Richardson

Heather considers the long term contribution of narratives established by Dame Cicely Saunders  on the work of St Christopher’s in 2022. She describes the reach and scope of the charity and also some of the challenges. She draws strong links between Dame Cicely’s original vision for the hospice and her aspirations for a different world experience of end of life and the contemporary work of St Christopher’s to do the same

On the path of Cicely in Italy (Sul sentiero di Cicely Saunders) by Francesca Bracco

The European Narrative Medicine Society was born from an idea of the Italian Society of Narrative Medicine (SIMeN), and  it is an association of non-profit researchers dedicated to the investigation of Medical Humanities and Humanities for Health in the medical, health care, social services.

The purpose of this European Society is to promote and strengthen dialogues, discussions on the present and the future of Medical Humanities and narrative medicine, for health professionals, researchers (both academics and non-academics), humanists, teachers and other professionals coming from every branch. All this with the aim to contribute to improve both the well-being of people who suffer from a physical condition or a mental illness, and the health workers, the caregivers, the social services and the citizenship.

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