Madrugada palliative care

More help needed for Madrugada palliative care services

The Madrugada palliative care association, founded in 2009, continues to give invaluable support at home to an increasing number of people suffering life-limiting illnesses.

But it requires more volunteers and more financial help to maintain its comprehensive range of free specialist services.

Based in Praia da Luz, Madrugada (meaning ‘dawn’) relies on volunteers and funding from its four charity shops as well as donations from the community. It has extended its operations eastward in recent years, well beyond Lagoa and Silves to Ferreiras near Albufeira.

Madrugada has a clinical team based at the support centre in Praia da Luz that provides regular home visits to patients as well as managing the storage of clinical equipment necessary to facilitate patients. Equipment is provided to patients free of charge.

“At our charity shops in Praia da Luz, Lagos, Lagoa and Ferreiras, we rely on volunteers for the daily running of the shops,” says Suzana de Lima, Madrugada’s administration manager.

She adds: “These volunteers provide diverse skills to the shops, such as collecting, sorting and selling. For anyone with a few hours to spare, Madrugada would be grateful if you joined the volunteer team.”

The volunteer community is very diverse, with many coming from countries such as the UK, Germany, Netherlands, and some from the Azores and Madeira as well as mainland Portugal.

As an example of the help given to patients living at home in the Algarve, a woman with terminal cancer contacted Madrugada which, without delay, sent an experienced nurse to discuss with both the woman and her husband their personal, pressing needs.

The nurse’s advice included a recommendation to contact the palliative care team from the national health services (SNS) responsible for the Barlavento (Western Algarve) area and located in the local health centre in Lagoa.

A doctor and nurses came to consult and treat the patient with free medications. Similar visits, along with those of the Madrugada nurse, continued regularly each week and it was made clear they were available at any time. The patient – in this case a German-born woman who has lived in the Algarve for many years – was immensely grateful.

Madrugada charity shops accept and stock clean, good-quality donations ranging from furniture and clothes of all kinds to interesting gift items. They are sold at low prices by courteous volunteer assistants. The money raised helps Madrugada provide complementary therapies, family and bereavement counselling, as well as clinical equipment.

Anyone who feels they would like to help in any way can find details of Madrugada’s work and needs by checking their website or phoning +351 282 761 375.

For specialist information ask to speak to the clinical manager, Tanja Himming or email [email protected]

For fundraising or volunteer information contact the administration manager, Suzana de Lima, on the central phone number or email [email protected]

Two palliative care conferences are scheduled for Lisbon this year: April 15 and October 28.

By Len Port

Len Port is a journalist and author based in the Algarve. Follow Len’s reflections on current affairs in Portugal on his blog: