What are Compassionate Communities?
Compassionate Communities are networks of individuals and organizations that believe it is everyone’s responsibility to care for each other through life-limiting illness, dying, caregiving and grief.
A Compassionate Communities movement formed in the mid-2000s with the goals of building community support, recognizing illness, dying and grief as part of life, and making sure these subjects are talked about in social settings, embedded in policymaking and highlighted in the arts.
Compassionate Communities can be formal or informal, permanent or temporary, and include:
- health care providers
- social service agencies
- faith communities
- social groups
Compassionate Communities are groups of people who help each other through times of crisis and loss.
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 role of 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 about their activities over the past five years and the opportunities they identify to improve public understanding of palliative care, read our report, Raising Public Awareness of Palliative Care: A 2021 survey of Alberta Hospice and Palliative Care Societies.
Find a local palliative care or hospice society near you through the directory of the Alberta Hospice Palliative Care Association.
How to get started
Is your community group or organization interested in expanding community support for those who are sick, caregiving or grieving? As a first step, consider attending or hosting PalliLearn courses to gain valuable knowledge and skills.
Next, browse these tools for community groups and choose one that would help your group identify concrete ways to nurture more supportive communities where you live, work, worship or play.
- Compassionate City Charter
- Compassionate Communities UK
- Public Health Palliative Care International
- What is a Compassionate Community? (Video) | AfterCicely50
- Compassionate Communities Kingston (ON)
- Compassionate Ottawa (ON)
- New West Hospice Society (BC)
- Windsor Essex Compassion Care Community (ON)
- Kellehear A. "Compassionate communities: end-of-life care as everyone’s responsibility". Q J Med 2013; 106:1071–1075.
- Tompkins B. "Compassionate Communities in Canada: It Is Everyone’s Responsibility". Ann Palliat Med 2018; 7(Suppl 2):118–129.
Are you an educator?
My name is Tuan and I work for a grassroots organization that invests a lot of time and energy 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?