06 Apr STORIES THAT INSPIRED US – Every day counts
According to statistics, about 20,000 patients pass away from malignant diseases in Serbia every year. Approximately 33% of patients die at the hospital while there is no valid data on the care of the other patients. It is these hidden patients that are one of the most pressing problems in society because their needs are medical but also of social, psychological and spiritual nature. BELhospice Center is the first and the only charity organization in Serbia that has been providing palliative care to these patients and support to their families for free, for 13 years. Palliative care is the active and comprehensive care of cancer patients in advanced stages of the disease, which entails the control of the symptoms and psychological, social and spiritual support to patients and their families.
Two specialist doctors, three nurses, a social worker, psychologist and a coordinator for spiritual issues constitute the BELhospice multidisciplinary team that, absolutely free of charge, take care of the patients in their homes and seek to provide the highest possible quality of life for patients and their families and to preserve their dignity in the last stages of the disease.
Since its establishment, BELhospice is funded exclusively through donations, through the implementation of projects and organizing charity events. A fundraising sector makes a significant part of the BELhospice team. They organize charity events and raise public awareness about the importance of palliative care. Thanks to the donations from individuals and companies, all services for patients and their families are complimentary.
The center includes more than 100 volunteers who have undergone voluntary training and who are an essential part of many activities of the BELhospice center. One part of the volunteers is involved in work with patients by providing them and their families social support. Our volunteers Maša, Marina, Dušanka and Ana organized a mini birthday party for Angelina, who is a patient of the BELhospice center for five years, in order to give her additional support after going into a nursing home. Angelina and other frequently visited patients built a great relationship with all the volunteers.
The second part of the volunteers provides support to the fundraising team in organizing charity events and activities. Translating, designing events, contacting potential donors, or providing assistance in administrative matters are all ways in which BELhospice volunteers are involved in the work of the center.
One of the founders of the BELhospice center, Dr. Nataša Milicević is the only doctor in our country with subspecialization in palliative care so the education of professionals and the general public about palliative care also represents one of the important activities of BELhospice center. As one of the project partners of the European Union, BELhospice participated in the drafting of the National Strategy for Palliative Care.
The vision of BELhospice center is for all cancer patients in Serbia, in advanced stages of the disease, to have access to adequate palliative care in order to minimize their suffering and preserve their dignity. In November 2015, a campaign was launched to build the first stationary hospice in Serbia so that a large number of patients could have the adequate support and a large number of professionals to acquire basic knowledge and skills in palliative care. Hospice is a specialized institution for palliative care services which implies not only the accommodation for the patients and respite for the family but also the proper way to care for cancer patients, regardless of whether they are located in a hospital, nursing home or at home. The location that will house the future hospice is in a quiet part of Belgrade and it will include a day center, a clinic, an educational center, offices of the home care teams, as well as the medical unit with 12 beds to accommodate patients.
This story is a part of the aspirations of the TACSO Serbia and TACSO by Civic Initiatives to promote good practices of civil society organizations in Serbia and motivate other organizations that invest on daily basis their energy and efforts in creating a better society for all citizens of Serbia.