Healing Hearts and Communities: the power of compassion

Healing Hearts and Communities: the power of compassion

Silvia Librada Flores, New Health Foundation

This Sunday, 9th October is World Hospice and Palliative Care Day with the theme ‘Healing Hearts and Communities’[1]. It is a beautiful theme that refers to the concepts of compassion and Compassionate communities, which are now core pillars of palliative care policy and practice[2] and increasingly more of the integrated care movement.

There will be no integrated care without person-centred care, but the latter can only be compassionate care or it won´t be. Neither the most radical service delivery reforms, nor the latest evidence-based protocols, the sound governance mechanisms or the most effective uptake of the latest technologies will suffice if they are not based upon the principles of respect, responsiveness and compassion.

Being an inherent human being value, in the last decades, compassion has proved to be also a powerful public health narrative and tool, that benefits people and communities. Palliative Care policy and practice around the world is embracing this compassionate component as essential for the new public health oriented and community-centred approach, where care at the end of life is provided together by health and care services and community networks.

The growth of Compassionate Communities[3] around the world is a testimony of the power of compassion as a public health narrative and tool. Several organizations have developed wonderful projects across Europe[4] [5]and Latin America[6], [7]. All these experiences show how societies actively mobilise around people-led approaches to compassionate citizenship and integrated palliative and end of life care.


A joint compassionate look to the needs of people should be the motive and the glue to the joint work of health and care services and community groups and networks. But a compassionate look is also needed from the policymakers and decision makers, to exercise a compassionate leadership.

In this 2022 World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, we would like to make a broad call to everyone, the health and care workforce, managers, policymakers and the broader society to embrace compassion and compassionate care as essential policy principles, to contribute to hearts and communities to be healed.

The New Health Foundation is a Spanish non-for profit organisation, based in Seville, dedicated to supporting and promoting the improvement of people with advanced chronic illnesses and at the end-of-life. You can find more at their website https://www.newhealthfoundation.org/

[1] https://www.thewhpca.org/

[2] Abel J, Kellehear A, Karapliagou A. Palliative care—the new essentials. Ann Palliat Med 2018; 7(Suppl 2),S3–S14

[3] Kellehear, A. (2005). Compassionate Cities: Public Health and End-of-Life Care. London:Routledge.

[4] In Spain, the New Health Foundation has set up various initiatives, being ‘Seville with You, Compassionate City’ set up in 2015 the demonstration project of the ‘All with You” method of creating Compassionate Communities and Cities. Compassionate Inverclyde is a collaborative programme in Scotland. In England, the city of Plymouth was officially launched as a compassionate city in 2019.

[5]  Wilson G., Herrera Molina E., Librada Flores S. and Kellehear A (2022) Compassionate cities: A social ecology at the end of life, in Abel J. and Kellehear A. (eds), Oxford Textbook of Public Health Palliative Care, Oxford, pp.117-125.

[6] Many compassionate communities and cities have been launched in Colombia: ‘Bogotá with You’, ‘Ibagué with You’, ‘Manizales with You’, ‘Santa Marta with You’, “Cartagena with you”, Villavicencio with you” – all these by the Keralty Foundation – and ‘Fusagasugá with You’ by the Ami Pallium Foundation. In Costa Rica, “Cartago with You” is the initiative of the Partir con Dignidad Foundation.

[7] Librada, S., Herrera, E., Boceta, J., Mota, R., and Nabal- , M. 2018a. All with You: a new method for developing compassionate communities and cities at the end of life. Experiences in Spain and Latin-America. Annals of Palliative Medicine, 7, S15– S31.

Silvia Librada

Director of Compassionate Communities Programs,

Research and Social Innovation at New Health Foundation


Silvia Librada is Director of Compassionate Communities Programs, Research and Social Innovation at New Health Foundation. She has more than 25 scientific publications related to Palliative Care, compassion and compassionate communities. She recently obtained the Doctorate Cum Laude for her thesis “Compassionate Communities at the end of life. Model of development and evaluation of the impact on society”.