The concept of the Compassionate Community has ceased to be a theory. It has become a practice in Brazil due to the initiatives of Alexandre Silva, a professor at the Federal University of São João del-Rei, in Minas Gerais, to introduce Palliative Care in the favelas of Rocinha and Vidigal, in Rio de Janeiro.
Bearing in mind the local population's health needs and aware that the premise of Palliative Care is the principle of a multidisciplinary team, Professor Silva sought out health professionals to add to his project. Nurses, doctors, occupational therapists, speech therapists, dentists, social workers, psychologists, physiotherapists, nutritionists, physical educators, and chaplains, all volunteers from different cities in Brazil, come together for monthly visits to patients.
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The initiative is based on community ties and includes members of the community itself. Local residents who were already taking initiative to actively care for neighbors are receiving training and resources to more effectively play the role of volunteer caregivers. They accompany, support, and provide help, seeking to minimize the suffering of patients in the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual dimensions. They are also attentive to the needs of medicines, food, and hygiene material, interfacing with the local public health system.
"The driving force of the project is compassion," explains Professor Silva. As per his understanding, caring for each other is inherent to the human being. For this reason, Compassionate Communities are a feasible way for society to generate changes, providing Palliative Care and a better quality of life for patients in the neediest places.