As part of the ehospice remit to bring you expertise and experience of the global hospice and palliative care community we share Dr Beatriz Thompson’s inspirational article on hospice and palliative care in Belize. Dr Thompson is co-founder of the Belize Hospice Palliative Care Foundation – it was her realisation of the need for quality care for cancer patients while working in a hospital in Mexico that led her to return to her native Belize to evaluate end of life care services and resources available to Belizeans. At that time, the people in Belize did not have anyone available to help them in managing their pain or to care for them during end of life.
The Belize Hospice Palliative Care Foundation was born from the minds of a group of housewives, teachers, nurses, doctors, tax collectors, bank employees who gave voluntarily of their time and resources for those who were diagnosed with end-stage cancer in Belize.
However, in pursuit of an organised manner of serving these people it developed a mission, vision, short term goals, long term goals. It hopes that we may always be there for our brothers and sisters who are going through the experience of cancer, in a humble, compassionate, committed and available manner. In Belize the majority of cancer patients are diagnosed in late stages.
Up until 2008, cancer care was only available to those who could afford to travel outside of Belize, and except for pethidine and codeine there was not any other opioid for pain management. As a foundation we started lobbying with the ministry of health to facilitate the availability of oral opioids in Belize. In 2010 this became a reality. This has changed the faces of our patients who were dying in excruciating pain to now people who can still be able to sit out of bed, be able to go to the park, enjoy get together with other patients and their families.
The ideal hospice and palliative care is still a dream yet to become a reality, since we are still a group of volunteers going to our patients when we can. There are some of our patients who are homeless and family-less and it is our goal to get them a home where they can enjoy God's presence, nature and its beauty and just have peace and tranquillity and when its time to go to embrace death as a transitioning process.
As a foundation we have networked and linked and we hope that one of our goals of incorporating palliative care into the nursing school curriculum will be a reality by 2013-2014 God willing.
It's been a joy to be able to work with this type of patient and to see how God has provided big time for them and also to see how this has grown from an idea to what is our reality at the moment in Belize.