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PRONIA’s Palliative Care Counsellor visits hospices in Athens

From left : Varbara Kosmidou, Antonis Theofilou and Aspa Zaimi from Agapan with Anton

Anton Anagnastou, Community Educator and Counsellor, PRONIA Palliative Care Project, recently visited two palliative care services in Athens, Greece. This was an opportunity to learn about their vision, operations and challenges and also share Pronia’s achievements in the Australian-Greek community .

Anton shared his impressions from his meetings with Agapan and Galilail with PCV. From his conversation with the hospices, he learned that early in 2019, there was a debate about the Greek term for Palliative Care. The Ministry of Health then officially declared, through the Strategic Action Plan document that was published by that Palliative Care translates and will be operated as “Anakoufistiki Fronditha”. The rationale pointed out the negative connotation of the previous term ” Parigoritiki / Parigoriki Fronditha ” which referred to consolation rather than relief and comfort which is the true message of Palliative Care.

Agapan is a not-for-profit organisation that provides palliative care consultancy to families, carers and individuals. Ms Aspa Zaimi, President of Agapan, is passionate about the potential of palliative care in Greece. Ms Zaimi believes that people should have the opportunity to stay out of home and receive care from multidisciplinary teams in hospices and day centers. This would be beneficial for the diagnosed person and their families and assist in their wellbeing.

Agapan plans to set up a hospice in metropolitan Athens that is accessible to everyone. Agapan is self-funded for now and is open to donations and charities to enable them meet their goals. Agapan, deals with families and carers in a consultancy capacity, referring them to a volunteer psychologist or other services.

Galilaia is a not-for-profit organisation sponsored by the Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Mesogaia and Laureotiki, in the South East of Attiki municipality. It provides community palliative care services for people within the Holy Orthodox Metropolis region, a day centre that operates twice a week and a hospice centre, the first one in Greece.

A multidisciplinary team is present to assist residents, families and carers. Residents stay in the hospice for a maximum of fifteen days. Ms Aliki Tserkezoglou, Manager of Galilaia expressed appreciation for the effort, vision and willingness that was put towards the project by Bishop Nikolaos to create a hospice that looked home-like. All services are free to public and referrals are made mainly through hospitals.

I was given a tour of the hospice which was impressive and reflected efforts of the Holy Orthodox Metropolis to provide high quality care.

Galilaia provides accommodation to a family member/carer in the hospice. The rooms are private and have a kitchen, bathroom and a sofa-bed, in case the carer or family member wishes to stay overnight with their loved one.

The community is responding positively to the services. As both services are in the same region, the rest of Greece lacks hospices and can provide only day clinics in hospitals.

For more information on these services please contact Anton Anagnostou on AntonA@agwspronia.onmicrosoft.com

Article contributed by Anton Anagnastou, PRONIA

Anton with staff at Galilaia

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