Compassionate Cities

The major community development initiatives associated with global palliative care tend to be known as compassionate communities or compassionate cities. In some German-speaking countries these social innovations may also go under the name of ‘caring communities or caring cities’.

Compassionate Communities tend to be neighborhood programmes, that is, they are mostly groups of neighbors living close to each other in villages or suburban areas that come together to organize a way to support people in their own area who are living with life-limiting illness, caregiving or grief and loss. Often these compassionate communities are inspired or facilitated by local hospice or palliative care services though others may be initiated by housing or health promotion associations. However, activists in compassionate communities are NOT volunteers of these associations. Instead they are ordinary neighborhood citizens working in a loose partnership with health or social service organization in a co-operative relationship of support for the people in their area. They are citizen-led organizations of neighbors volunteering their own time for their local area.

On the other hand, Compassionate Cities tend to be densely-populated urban organisations with complex and interlocking social sectors. Compassionate cities range from populations in the tens of thousands to those over one million in size. Most compassionate cities – but not all – tend to use the Compassionate City Charter as a basis for developing social policies and actions (see HERE) that cross-cut their cities life worlds – from workplaces and businesses to schools and universities to churches and temples to galleries, museums, sporting clubs and associations and to their media in television, radio and internet of things. Cities will often hold award events or festivals that bring people together to publicly support those living with life-limiting illnesses, long-term caregiving, and loss and grief.

Compassionate Cities employ different models of social organization but just about all of them have a ‘steering committee’ of one sort or another – a central body of people who meet on a regular basis to discuss plans to make their city an active contributor and participant in end of life care. Many of these steering committees are led by a consortium of business, local government, health services, and churches/temples/mosques, or school organisations. Together they agree a set of actions and plans to transform policies that effect all major sectors of their urban area whether, for examples, these be workplace or school policies, or initiating annual festivals of remembrance.

Compassionate Cities – like compassionate communities – recognize the 95% rule: 95% of the time that anyone who is dying, caregiving or grieving is spent outside formal episodes of professional services. It is the responsibility of communities of all stripe to address the support needs of that 95%.

This section of our website lists the current Compassionate Cities that are registered with our association as affiliates and are recognized to work with public health principles to achieve their end of life care vision.

Each city will be listed by name and estimated population size, followed by a short paragraph about their organization and activities. This is followed by a contact name and email address for further information. The current list enables each city to communicate with each other. The list also helps facilitate interested people from other cities not active in public health palliative care to contact any one of these to learn how to commence or learn from the experiences of those who have committed to this social approach to end of life care.