Enjoying our last days

news: Enjoying our last days

AMARA, established last year, is a well-recognised company which promotes and develops the spirit and practise of palliative care in Portugal. Dra. Isabel Neto and her nurses are part of the team of experts, based in Odivelas, who provide care for terminal cancer sufferers.

AMARA’s aspiration is to contribute to the transformation of inappropriate social prejudices, taboos and fears about death, so that everyone has the opportunity of living and dying with dignity, irrespective of their socio-economic circumstances, spiritual beliefs, or ethnic background. AMARA is also a member of the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care.

What is palliative care?

It’s an approach to the care of people with a life-threatening illness, and includes the support and care of their family as well as of their close friends. The terms ‘hospice care’ and ‘palliative care’ are often used synonymously. However, many people associate the word hospice with a specialised place of care, outside of the home or hospital setting.

The palliative reduction or elimination of physical pain and discomfort by specially trained doctors allows dying people to prepare themselves psychologically and spiritually for death, to be accompanied until the end, to die with dignity and, in most cases, rather peacefully.

Psychological and spiritual accompaniment is also essential for dying people, but this has to be done in a very sensitive and open way, without any intention of ‘preaching the truth’ or saving a soul. The purpose of such accompaniment is to enable a dying person to transcend their life, in their own way.

Be part of the team

At this time, the main instrument and activity of AMARA is education, chiefly through professionally facilitated courses and workshops. Facing our own fears about our death, and the death of our loved ones, is an effective preparation for accompanying terminally ill patients and their families. It is also a very powerful self-development process. All courses and workshops can be given in English, French and, of course, Portuguese.

The biggest part of the course comprises practical and creative exercises, which enable the participants to learn about themselves. They acquire the necessary tools for their own preparation for death, through living better and developing serenity, and also for getting ready to face other people’s illness and death.

AMARA provides a range of professionally facilitated courses and workshops of between two to six days for individuals, families and healthcare professionals. Places are usually limited to a maximum of six participants, which allows for a very personalised work within a supportive group dynamic. AMARA is a non-profit making association that endeavours to self-fund its voluntary work in the community. Therefore, a reasonable financial contribution is asked from each course participant. The company has several well-qualified trainers, such as the Director of Training, and psychotherapist and teacher, Helena-Hermine Aitken, who has worked with the terminally ill for more than 10 years.

To find out more about AMARA, they will be at the Second Portuguese National Congress of Palliative Care, which takes place between November 17 and 19 at the Gulbenkian Centre in Lisbon. Alternatively, call Carol Costeloe on 916 162 911, email [email protected] or visit their website at www.amara-project.org