BELARUSIAN CHILDREN'S HOSPICE To make a secure donation to help the work of the Belarusian Children's Hospice please click here
"Hospice is not about death" says the Director of the Belarusian Children's Hospice, Anna Gorchakova, "it is about Life, achieving the best possible quality of life for a child in his or her last weeks and days."

Anna was a clinical psychologist working in the Children's Cancer Hospital in Minsk. She became very concerned about the fate of children whose treatment was unsuccessful. They either had to stay in the hospital to die or return home where their families would have to cope with the child's last weeks without medical and psychological support.

With active support from Rotary International, UK friends who delivered much needed goods and support of the Hospital, Anna established the Belarusian Children's Hospice in October 1994. Its goal was to provide palliative home care for children in the last stages of cancer, and also for those with limited life expectancy due to chronic diseases.

The patients stay at home and are visited and supervised by a palliative care team that includes a doctor, a nurse, a social worker-psychologist, a volunteer and, if necessary, a pastor. Home-hospice care enables a patient to receive all the professional and moral support available from both the hospice staff and their relatives while staying at home till the end of their lives. The patients of the Hospice can receive medical care, social, psychological, judicial and moral support. The main goal of the Hospice is not to cure patients but to improve their quality of life in the last period of serious or incurable disease so that people would be able to have a full worthy life, without pain and suffering as long as possible.

Palliative home care includes control and prevention of pain, bedsores therapy, massage, education of parents about how to care for their children. Each family has a team of care, which consists of a doctor, nurse, and social worker. All medicaments for the families are free of charge.

After the death of a child, the work of the hospice team does not stop. Psychologists trained in coping with bereavement organise both private discussions with parents and groups of bereaved parents who can come together to share their feelings. Every year there is a 'Memory Day' when all the families come together to remember their children, and the pictures of the children can be seen on a board in the hospice chapel.

Support for the brothers and sisters of those who have died is just as important. As well as counselling, they have the opportunity to spend time at the Hospice Summer House and sometimes to travel abroad for a holiday. The Summer House is a wonderful little place in the countryside in the West of Belarus, where children and families have the chance to relax and are cared for by hospice staff and volunteers.

Although most of the care takes place at home, there is a hospice building which contains a day care centre for children with chronic diseases; rooms where families can stay for short periods, or a child with no parents could come to die; a sensory room; a chapel; and the offices for the staff.

The Hospice has had a close link with a number of British Chernobyl charities for many years, and it was the Ann Roberts Fund which provided most of the money to make the purchase of the new hospice building possible three years ago.

Funds are needed to continue and extend the valuable work the Hospice is doing in and around the capital city, but also to spread palliative care throughout the country. Regional Hospices have been set up in the last few years in Gomel, Vitebsk, Mogilev and Pinsk. But there is a great need to establish more small hospice teams so that a child with terminal cancer living in any part of Belarus, can spend his last weeks at home with his family and free from pain.

For more information see the Hospice website:

If you would like to make a donation to the Hospice please make your cheque payable to:
'Belarusian Children's Hospice' and send to c/o A.J. McLaren, 9 Bowden Road, Glossop, Derbyshire, SK13 7BD

Eight-year-old Sasha with her dad, patients of Gomel Hospice

At the opening of the new hospice building in September 2004

Anna Gorchakova

Hospice doctor and family in Pinsk

Misha with his mum and his twin brother at Minsk Hospice

Katya and her daughter Alina are cared for by the Minsk Hospice

To make a secure donation to help the work of the Belarusian Children's Hospice please click here