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This notion of offering specialized culture-specific hospice and palliative care programs is spreading quickly.  There are many communities that already offer culture-specific teams to care for particular ethnic groups or those sharing common languages, religious affiliations or traditions.

Now, Hospice of the Good Shepherd in Boston, Massachusetts, is accommodating Russian-speaking residents by offering a Russian-speaking team composed of a social worker, nurse, home health aides and art therapist.

Residents are presented with care options in their native language, meals of traditional foods, and medical advice within a culturally sensitive framework.  The program has been received with open arms and hearts by the patients and their families.

This program is of particular significance for the Russian-speaking community because of the infrequency of such practices throughout Russian history.

“The lack of palliative and hospice care for people with terminal illnesses in Russia is a problem that has not been addressed for decades.” says Olga I. Usenko, a Russian physician, “In addition, palliative medicine is still not recognized as a specialty in the Russian Federation medical system and the majority of medical professionals do not have adequate knowledge about modern methods of pain management.”

Anna Sonkin recently highlighted the challenges of accessing palliative care and the lack of resources in Russia, which is affecting children as well as the elderly.

Hospice of the Good Shepherd recognizes this need and is doing more than its part for the Russian-speaking community by expanding its initiative internationally.  In Moldova, for instance, they are helping to purchase equipment, conduct training exchanges and develop hospice programs which have only begun to grow in the last 10 years.

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[Photo Credit: Tom Page, Flickr]

For a list of hospice and palliative care in Russia and CIS countries, see the list from Pallcare.ru (in Russian).

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Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

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