In 1997 Lady Ryder founded the charity Fondazione Sue Ryder in Italy.
Lady Ryder had a deep Christian tie with Rome and during her many visits to the eternal city she became aware of the plight of the dying there.
Rosemary plants are sold every year outside local parish churches on Lady Ryder's BirthdayThe family and home are integral to Italian lifestyle and Sue Ryder recognised the enormous need to bring relief to the disadvantaged who were dying, by establishing a specialist home palliative care and pain relief service. Care is free of charge and is provided by a team of palliative care specialist doctors, nurses, psychologists, bereavement counsellors and volunteers. The extensive and complicated daily organisation is backed up by a highly qualified administration team. Care for the dying is covered on a 24 hour, 7 day per week basis.
As soon as it became known to the Italian health care authorities that Lady Ryder was establishing her team, an agreement was made with the Rome local health authority ASL RM/B, which stands since 1997. The population catchment area (850.000 inhabitants) is not only vast geographically, but also includes a deprived socio-economic population.
The term “palliative” stems from Latin “pallium” meaning a mantle or cloak which wraps around the patient and family in a protective manner.
Palliative care underlines the value of life itself and considers dying as a natural event. Death is neither accelerated or held back. Relief from pain and the other symptoms which accompany dying are treated with the aim of helping patients to live their life actively until the end thus allowing them to maintain dignity.
The family is supported all the way throughout this time and well after the patient’s death by the bereavement care team.
The patient’s home is the natural place for him/her to wish to stay during this important phase of life. The care plan for each patient is highly personalised because of where the patient is, allowing the Fondazione team to concentrate on the patient’s quality of life in a far more appropriate manner . This form of care is called “ Hospice at home”.
The highly integrated interdisciplinary multi professional team is constantly undergoing intense education and training in order to be able to meet the often sudden or unexpected changes in care for both the patient and family.
The “pallium” approach continues following the patient’s death with the bereavement service offering individual support or organising self help groups. This is maintained for as long as is requested.
The team of volunteers is trained in palliative care and are an integral part of the Fondazione , carrying out various duties ranging from practical support for the patient and family to representing the charity in various fundraising activities.
In a nutshell, the Fondazione Sue Ryder gives the patient the opportunity to confront cancer together with the family at home maintaining ,where possible ,a normal daily life and being involved in the decision making process of care.
The family is given the possibility to be close to their loved one without completely modifying their lifestyle, with the peace of mind that a highly professional team is not only always at hand, but everyone involved is working towards the same aim.
In 2012 alone 167 new patients were admitted to the service with a total of 197 being cared for over the year. An amazing 137 patients were able to die at home in their own beds, which in itself translates to a wonderful standard of quality of care. This can be evaluated into numbers by the actual 6.748 home visits made by various team professionals of which 2,619 were made by doctors alone. The entire patient care plan is undertaken by the team and all needs are met without the intervention of other community services, augmenting the impact of cost saving for the regional authority.
Celebrating the 15 years Anniversary in Italy of the FondazioneFondazione Sue Ryder has been actively supported by the Lady Ryder of Warsaw Memorial Trust, enabling care to be improved, staff to be trained and helping where necessary when a shortfall in funding occurs.
In her lifetime Lady Ryder was immensely proud of the work carried out in Italy and today the Fondazione Sue Ryder continues not only to maintain very high care standards, but also educates the public and professionals in palliative care and pain relief, at both scientific and public events.
Further information regarding the charity can be found at their website: www.sueryder.it