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History of the Hospice Movement

The word 'hospice' was first used from the 4th century when Christian orders welcomed travellers, the sick and those in many kinds of need. It was first applied to the care of dying patients by Mme Jeanne Garnier who founded the Dames de Calaire in Lyon, France, in 1842. The name was next introduced by the Irish Sisters of Charity when they opened Our Lady's Hospice in Dublin in 1879 and St Joseph's Hospice in Hackney, London(1905).

Dame Cicely Saunders' experiences while working at St Joseph's and at St Luke's Hospital (Home for the Dying Poor founded in 1893) led to the founding by her of St Christopher's Hospice in 1967.

Two national charitable organisations, Marie Curie Cancer Care and The Sue Ryder Foundation have also played an important role in providing specialised care for dying people and their families. The 11 Marie Curie Homes were developed in the 1950s and the Sue Ryder Homes began to emerge in the 1970s.

The growth pattern of hospices in recent years has been considerable. In the first few years after the opening of St Christopher's development was mainly in the independent, charitable sector. In the early 1970s the National Society for Cancer Relief (now known as Macmillan Cancer Relief) began a programme whereby capital grants were given to units built within NHS hospital grounds with health authorities taking over responsibility for their running costs.

Hospices and palliative care have developed in different ways, appropriate to the needs of patient and family - inpatient care, home care, day care and hospital services.

The different categories of patient care provided by hospices and palliative care centres are as follows:

Independent or Voluntary Hospices - these units are registered charities financed mainly by charitable income. They have firm links in policy and practice with the National Health Service but receive only partial funding from PCTs. In addition to inpatient care most hospices provide home care, day services and bereavement support. Some buildings are purpose built, while others may have been established in a converted building. Units range in size from 2 to 63 beds.

Marie Curie Centres are administered by the national charity, Marie Curie Cancer Care. In addition to 11 homes there are 6000 part-time Marie Curie Nurses who nurse patients in their own homes.

Sue Ryder Homes administered by the national charity, the Sue Ryder Foundation, provide palliative care for patients with cancer in all of their homes, and several have visiting nurses who attend patients in their own homes, both before admission and after returning home.

Macmillan Cancer Care Units. Macmillan Cancer Relief has funded and built many inpatient and day patient units, mostly on hospital sites and now being funded and operated by the National Health Service. Macmillan has also funded, or part funded, several units operated by the voluntary sector.

Palliative Care Wards/Units in NHS Hospitals. Some hospitals have designated units or wards where patients benefit from the principles and practice of hospice care. Some Care Homes practice the principles of Hospice care.