Cicely Saunders was born June 22, 1918, in Barnet, England. During the late 1940s, she started working with terminally ill patients. She founded the first modern hospice, St. Christopher's Hospice, in 1967 to provide palliative care to those in need, promoting the principle of dying with dignity. For nearly 20 years, she served as the hospice's medical director.
Founding the St. Christopher's Hospice
Physician, nurse, social worker, writer and founder of the modern hospice movement Cicely Saunders was born on June 22, 1918, in Barnet, Hetfordshire, England. She studied at Oxford University for a few years, and then trained as a nurse at St. Thomas's Hospital in London. Saunders later finished her degree at Oxford and became a social worker.
During the late 1940s, Saunders started working with terminally ill patients. She earned her medical degree from St. Thomas' Medical school in 1957, began researching and fundraising to form the first research and teaching hospice. In 1967, her dream became reality when St. Christopher's Hospice opened to provide palliative care to those in need. For nearly twenty years, Saunders served as the hospice's medical director. She also served as its chairperson and president. In her work, Saunders promoted the principle of dying with dignity, maintaining that death is a natural process and can be eased by sensitive nursing and effective pain-control.
Death and Legacy
During her career, Saunders received many awards for her pioneering work, including the Templeton Prize in 1981, and wrote and edited a number of books on her subject. She was made a Dame of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1980. Saunders died on July 14, 2005, at St. Christopher's Hospice in London.
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