Compassionate Cities

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What makes a compassionate city?

Events Calendar of Events. Event Registration. Workforce Career Center. Job Transition. Internship Central. Virtual Resume Coach. Workforce Readiness. Bridging the Talent Gap. With the aim of helping everyone to live well within their communities to the very end of their lives, we want to develop compassionate communities across the areas where we deliver our care. A compassionate community is one in which everyone recognises that as individuals we all have a role in supporting each other, particularly during periods of crisis or loss.

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Reaching out to others not only reduces feelings of loneliness and isolation, it helps meet the needs of those who wish to be cared for in place of choice and stay within their communities. Whether you are a neighbour, friend, colleague or family member, we all have a part to play in helping each other. A Compassionate Friend is not a professional counsellor or health expert, but a good listener who shows their neighbour, friend or peer they care.

From stopping by for a cup of tea or a chat to helping with shopping or a few chores, simple but heartfelt gestures help people stay connected to friends and the community. Through our awareness session, a Compassionate Friend learns a little bit more about how taking the time to LEND a helping hand or friendly ear can make a difference and then turns that understanding into action — anyone can be a Compassionate Friend. What does the session cover?

We want to create a community of compassionate friends and ultimately dispel the myths about death and dying. The same can be said about death education. Just as sex is a natural part of the life cycle, so as is death, and schools have a role in preparing students. Should death education also be included in school curriculums, it is fair to assume that a similar outcry will ensue.

What Makes a Compassionate City?

Not unlike sexual health education, death education will need to be impartial and sensitive to religious and cultural objections Although practices surrounding caregiving, grieving, and memorializing loved ones are all culturally-bound, death is universal. By introducing death education into schools, people can become comfortable with the idea that death is unavoidable.

In Canada, there are two curriculums available in both official languages that deal with death and loss. The second, Passport: Skills for Life, is a PHAC funded initiative designed to help children between 9 and 11 years of age to cope with loss and touches on death and bereavement This program is currently being taught in public, faith-based, and Indigenous schools.

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It also includes a 2-day training course for teachers to explore their own interactions with death prior to moving on to the curriculum itself. In addition, tailored resources and workshops are available to parents to address any concerns they may have prior to the launch of the curriculum. Unfortunately, these curriculums are not the norm and death education is not readily available to most students in Canada. Thus, the first step in integrating death education into school curriculums is to standardize the education systems. Death education, like sex education, should be consistent across school boards.

Moreover, measures must be taken to ensure that the distribution of teachers, class size, education funding, and evaluation methods, are carefully thought out as to not overload teachers Teachers have shown significant interest in implementing death education into school curriculums. As part of a public health project, a student under the supervision of Bonnie Tompkins Compassionate Communities National Lead held focus groups with educators who expressed feeling unequipped to deal with death and unsure where to get the necessary information and training to help their students One teacher shared that she was dying and did not know how to discuss it with her students.

In another instance, two teachers felt unfit to deal with a child whose father had died by suicide. They did not have the resources to help them with this situation, a challenge compounded by the fact that the student was on the autism spectrum. In the complex modern classroom, teachers who are properly prepared to discuss such a sensitive topic as death may find such challenges easier to negotiate.

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The activities and initiatives at the national level can also help local compassionate community organizations to encourage employers to develop compassionate workplace policy. With progress being made through the Compassionate Care Benefit at a national level, the CC movement is garnering support, thus setting a new tone for office culture and shaping a workplace environment that is conducive to compassionate workplaces.

Supporting caregivers is imperative for patients, their families and friends, and the community at large, and employers have an important role to play in advocating on their behalf. When coworkers and employers understand the difficulties involved with looking after a loved one who is ill, they learn to appreciate the process of the cycle of life, value the benefits of compassion, and learn to recognize their role as part of a Compassionate Community Establishing proactive policy and instilling a sensitivity to the emotional impact experienced by caregivers and dying employees, employment-based initiatives provide employers with strategies to ensure appropriate and sensitive handling of death in the workplace Partnering with faith communities can offer an approach to palliative care grounded in the CC model.

The MAiD legislation has increased interest among faith communities on the needs for accessible and comprehensive palliative care. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops assists dioceses in promoting palliative care and end-of life education in parishes, schools and hospitals, even encouraging Catholic schools to develop and undertake palliative care education in classrooms and introduce students to the language and practice of palliative care.

It is also looking to develop a presentation that utilizes the CC model to address questions surrounding palliative care, dying, death and suffering by clarifying the relationship between the medical practices of palliative care and how it relates to theology —showing how palliative care is medically and morally distinct from MAiD.

In the same vein, Pallium is developing a toolkit that defines basic palliative care terminology e.

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It will help demystify how death and palliative care intersect with theology and will serve as a CC education tool. It will contain three modules, two of which will be applicable to Jewish and Muslim faiths, allowing faith communities to tailor the module to their needs. At the time of writing, plans have been made to host focus groups in Catholic parishes in Evaluating volunteer-led projects operating within the CC model has been a challenge. Because many initiatives are not-for-profit and volunteer based, funding and resources allocated to develop evaluation tools has been limited.

The thirteenth area of focus in the CCC, mandates evaluations to measure the success and usefulness of CC initiatives to justify their presence, their funding, and their support. For this reason, Pallium in partnership with CC initiatives across the country, is applying for funding to develop these tools, which will allow them to assess project performance.


Pallium is focused on mobilizing the spread of CC across Canada and has identified several key areas where it can provide support. The first toolkit covers core aspects of successfully initiating a compassionate community. The workplace toolkit is currently under development. Subsequent toolkit topics may cover neighborhoods and death education. In addition, Pallium is hoping to partner with organizations focused on supporting grassroots community projects to create best practices tools. Opportunities to engage community members and stakeholders are also a key priority for Pallium.

For example, Pallium is hoping to host annual connection events either virtually or in person such as the Take 2 event, which in September , brought CC initiatives together from across the country Such events will enable champions of local CC initiatives to celebrate and learn from pan-Canadian projects to build and support a broader compassionate country.

Additionally, Pallium is looking to develop a web-based platform for people involved in CC to connect and collaborate in real-time.

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Prior to joining Pallium, Moat was the President of Partners for Mental Health, a national charitable organization dedicated to transforming the way Canadians think about, act towards and support mental health and wellbeing. The CC movement has grown and gained significant support since , when Kellehear first introduced a public health approach to palliative care in Canada.

The evolution of this social movement has not been without its downfalls.

For all of its strengths today, the CC movement has a significant amount of growing to do.