photo Pioneers of Hospice
Changing the Face of Dying
By Terrence Youk
For the Madison Deane Initiative

Over a period of less than forty years, the passion and foresight of four visionary healthcare professionals dramatically transformed the landscape of end-of-life care, and inspired a movement felt around the world. What these pioneers saw of the process of dying changed their lives. They were appalled, not by the natural act of dying itself, but by the way western societies hide it, deny it, misunderstand it and fail utterly to cope with it.

Pioneers of Hospice: Changing the Face of Dying documents the growth of hospice and palliative care in Britain, the United States, and Canada, focusing on the legacies of the founders of modern hospice:

• DAME CICELY SAUNDERS, MD, OM, DBE, FRCP founded the modern hospice movement, with the opening of St. Christopher's Hospice in England in 1967. Trained as a nurse, a social worker, and a physician, Dr. Saunders has spent more than fifty years of her life creating a philosophy and practice of care which has humanized the dying experience for patients and their families. Her concept of "total pain," embracing social, emotional and spiritual suffering as well as physical pain, revolutionized the medical establishment's traditional model of end-of-life care, and has changed the face of dying across the world.

• FLORENCE WALD, MN, MS, FAAN, distinguished clinical professor of nursing and former Dean of the Yale University School of Nursing, founded the first hospice in the United States in 1974. A world-renowned leader in nursing research, Wald has been pronounced a "Living Legend" by the American Academy of Nursing.

• ELISABETH KUBLER-ROSS, MD: Psychiatrist and founder of the Death with Dignity Movement, the late Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was one of the best-loved and most respected authorities on the subject of dying, death and grief. Her groundbreaking 1969 book, On Death and Dying, is still the best-selling work in the field. She was named one of the "One Hundred Most Important Thinkers of the Century" by Time Magazine in 1999. Her other books include To Live Until We Say Goodbye; On Children and Death; AIDS, The Ultimate Challenge; and her autobiography, The Wheel of Life.

• BALFOUR MOUNT, MD, FRCSPC: Considered the founder of Palliative Care in Canada, Mount was the Founding Director of the Royal Victoria Hospital Palliative Care Service at McGill University, in 1974, and is currently the Eric Flanders Professor of Palliative Medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. He received the Order of Canada for his work with the dying.

The makers of this film traveled to three countries to interview these remarkable pioneers, and to preserve for all time their reflections on the astonishingly powerful impact their work has had on the ways we view and experience death. The result is a compelling film with a unique historical and sociocultural perspective on the emergence of the modern hospice movement. Produced by the Madison-Deane Initiative, a volunteer-driven end-of-life care education program of the Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties, Colchester, Vermont.

49 minutes
© 2004
Purchase $248 DVD
Order No. QA-415
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"Every nurse and doctor in America, every professional and family caregiver to the dying, should see this film." Bill Moyers, journalist

"This is a wonderful and historic film of the very founders of the hospice movement world-wide, people themselves in the second half of their own lives right now." Marilyn Webb, author of The Good Death

"Has the character of a fireside chat with people you have always wanted to know. A wonderful archive of our important living history." Joanne Lynn, MD, author of Handbook for Mortals

"This fine film celebrates the heroes and history of end-of-life care. We meet the actual pioneers who created hospice in the modern world and glimpse their wisdom and wit. It is a treasure." Ira Byock, MD, author of Dying Well and The Four Things That Matter Most

"Intensely moving and emotionally provocative. We learn about our own relationship to death by listening to these unique individuals, whose courage and foresight altered the quality of care to dying patients and their families. It should be seen by all health care professionals and students and will add immensely to graduate and undergraduate courses in death and dying, but also community-based educational programs and hospice staff training." The Gerontologist

"By capturing the reminiscences of the key figures, the story of hospice comes alive in a way no written document could match. Pioneers of Hospice will no doubt prove to be a welcome addition in any course that deals with death and dying." Stephen J. Cutler, PhD

Awards & Conference Screenings
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
Media Award
International Conference on Care of the Terminally Ill
Vermont International Film Festival

Related Films
The Vanishing Line: Chronicles one physician's exploration of how to try and meet the needs of the dying and their families.

Making Every Moment Count: Addresses the complex issues surrounding palliative end-of-life care for children. Psychologist Leora Kuttner profiles five children with life threatening illness, and the families and health professionals who support them.

Ethics Thru Drama: A powerful and evocative series of short, one-character dramas created by two nurse-educators, and designed to focus discussion on complex ethical issues in end-of-life care.

Live and Let Go: Faced with terminal cancer, 76-year-old Sam Niver chooses to die with dignity and on his own terms. This will be a moving and provocative trigger for discussions of assisted suicide.

To Live Until I Die: Most Americans die in the hospital, often alone and in pain. These six terminally ill individuals are facing what lies ahead with anger, humor, insight, and honesty — determined to have a "good death."

A Family Undertaking: Profiles the home funeral movement, and the complex psychological, cultural, legal and financial issues surrounding the growing trend of families choosing to prepare loved ones at home for burial or cremation.

Common Heroes: Follows the nurses, physicians, social workers and clergy who make up the hospice team, and demonstrates the ways they collaborate to help patients and families.


Awards & Screenings

Related Films

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