Hospices of Hope was founded by Graham Perolls in 1991 following a trip to Romania. Graham has seen the organisation develop from very small beginnings into the leading palliative care organisation in South East Europe it is today.
A seed was sown
“I had seen the heart breaking images on TV of all the abandoned children in state orphanages and the horrendous conditions in other state institutions but seeing it for myself was simply shocking.
It was during this visit that I asked my friends to take me to the cancer hospital in Brasov. The consultant in charge of the hospital took me to see a young man who was dying in terrible pain. A seed was sown in my mind that perhaps I could use my experience to do something to help.
I discovered that palliative and hospice care was non-existent. They were simply sent home without access to pain relief or emotional, spiritual and psychological support.Their families had to cope as best they could and this led to untold suffering.
In 1991 I asked the trustees of the Ellenor Hospice to let me raise funds for Romania. One of the Ellenor nurses offered to go out to Brasov for two years to train our first Romanian hospice nurse.” Graham Perolls OBE CMG
The first Romanian hospice charity
“In 1992 we organised a conference in Brasov to raise awareness of the need for good palliative and at the end of life care. This created huge interest.” Graham Perolls OBE CMG
Over time, this small team grew and in 1996, a paediatrician and children’s nurse joined the team.
We recognised the need to train medical professionals so that hospice care could reach other countries in the region. In 1997, we built the Princess Diana Education CenteR as a residential facility for training palliative care professionals. This new Center was named after Princess Diana who supported us and had made the first donation towards this center.
The first hospice
Another breakthrough took place in 1998. The local authority in Brasov gave us a plot of land and we built the first in-patient teaching hospice with beds for both adults and children in Romania and in the region. This opened in 2002 and soon became recognized as a Center of Excellence.
Realising that we needed to grow our fundraising base, we opened an office in Nyack, New York, thanks to the amazing support of Dr Ronna McHammond. Ronna still runs our US branch of Hospices of Hope.
Increased support for terminally ill patients in the region
In 2003, the Open Society Institute named Hospice Casa Sperantei as a Palliative Care Beacon in Central and Eastern Europe and recommended it should become a regional training center.
Acting on this recommendation we launched the Beacon Appeal in 2003. The appeal was launched to increase and improve access to specialist care for terminally ill patients in the region.
We recognized the need to introduce palliative care into the capital city, Bucharest and for a mobile hospice service to be developed to help rural areas. We were also approached by neighboring countries Serbia and the Republic of Moldova for help.
To address the situation in Bucharest in 2005 we set up a National Resource Centre in the capital and started home care services in the following year. We entered into partnership with a newly formed Serbian charity called in 2006. Then in 2008 we started work in Moldova – initially working with Hospice Angelus in Chisinau but then setting up our own to work in more rural areas.
We also introduced two mobile services in rural areas of Brasov county – Fagaras and Zarnesti bringing much needed care to patients in two very poor rural areas of Romania.
New Bucharest hospice opened
A long standing dream was realized when we opened the first in-patient teaching hospice in Bucharest. It took 6 years to raise the funds for this project and a significant proportion of the funds were raised in Romania. Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex attended a fund raising lunch in Romania.
The new hospice was officially opened on September 19th September 2014 when the ribbon was cut by the Duchess of Norfolk and HIRH Dominic Habsburg.
We already hold some of our summer trips at Copaceni for sick and bereaved children and their siblings.
The need continues
Since those small beginnings in 1992, we have facilitated care for more than 40,000 patients in Romania, Moldova and Serbia. We have trained more than 20,000 health care professionals from all over Central and Eastern Europe.