Compassionate Communities

stylized illustrations of people and leaves

What are Compassionate Communities?

While illness and death are often seen as medical matters, they are also human experiences that touch us all. The Compassionate Communities movement recognizes illness, dying and grief as part of life and encourages everyone to play a part in caring for those going through these experiences.

Compassionate Communities build "circles of care" around people who are sick and dying, and those closest to them. These "circles" can include:

  • friends and neighbours
  • workplaces and schools
  • faith and cultural communities
  • social clubs
  • support groups
  • community organizations


A circle diagram explaining levels of care in a community

Why are they important?

Compassionate Communities provide practical and emotional support to those who are sick, reduce the burden on caregivers and offer meaningful opportunities for human connection at life’s critical moments.

They complement health services and expand the community’s capacity to care for people facing serious illness. The goal is that everyone is well cared for and supported.

Hospice and palliative care societies

Hospice and palliative care societies put the philosophy of Compassionate Communities into action in communities across Alberta.

These non-profit organizations offer a range of programs and services to support people living with serious illnesses, including public education, volunteer services, grief support and, in some cases, residential hospice care.

To find out more, read our report, Raising Public Awareness of Palliative Care: A 2021 survey of Alberta Hospice and Palliative Care Societies.

Interested in volunteering with your local palliative care or hospice society or know someone who might benefit from the programs they offer? Find a local palliative care or hospice society near you through the directory of the Alberta Hospice Palliative Care Association.

How to get started

PalliLearn courses courses are one way to gain valuable knowledge and skills to support the people around you. Consider attending courses or hosting them in your community.

Are you interested in engaging your community in a conversation about how to expand support for those who are sick, caregiving or grieving? Browse the list of tools for community groups and choose one to help you take steps to build more supportive communities where you live, work, worship or play.

stylized illustration of people

Are you an educator?

My name is Tuan and I work for a hospice society that invests a lot of time and energy into training its volunteers. We've learned about a range of social supports, but we've never gotten into topics related to helping people comfortably experience a life-limiting illness. Do any exist?