In 1997 Lady Ryder recognised the need for access to palliative care in Rome, and founded the charity Fondazione Sue Ryder Onlus, a provider of 24-hour specialist home palliative care and pain relief for the equivalent of Italy’s NHS.

Doctors, nurses, psychologists, volunteers and admin staff worked effectively to establish excellent standards of care, which quickly became recognised in this area, resulting in numerous requests for help.

Over the last 20 years Fondazione Sue Ryder has played a significant role in developing palliative care legislation In Italy. Guidelines for correct standards and procedures, and recognising the rights of the dying, are now in place.

Fondazione Sue Ryder focuses on offering care for the elderly and sick in deprived areas in Rome. Lady Ryder worked worldwide to relieve poverty, sickness and disability and the problems of old age and wished for this work to be carried out in Italy. The current economic crisis in Italy continues to punish the less able. Now the Foundazione are working to provide a service that gives free of charge nursing to the elderly who require one- off treatments, such as treatment of pressure sores, catheter change, IV etc. All of this is home care, that in theory, should be granted by Italy’s health care services, but due to expenditure cuts results in patients turning to the private sector – which pensioners simply cannot afford to do.

The Regional authorities have now created fair Palliative care legislation that recognises the rights of the dying and the suffering by providing guidelines for correct standards and procedure. The Foundazione has also played a significant role in obtaining legislation over the last 20 years. Today only Hospices and their incorporated home care teams receive accreditation.

In 2017 a Help Line was created giving access to information on who, where and how can families get the right support and free of charge care in Rome. This sort of information is hard to find and often out of date and very fragmented. There is the need for mapping the areas of Rome (divided in municipalities) in order to understand who gives care and support and how people can access it. Volunteers are helping the administration team in the Foundazione in finding and sorting out this data.

During 2017 the Foundazione received 103 requests for help, either from families, hospitals or GP’s, all of which were duly dealt with. In the first 6 months of this 2018, 55 requests were dealt with.

A network has also been created with other voluntary associations and the Church of the Rustica, – where the Foundazione has its headquarters, in a particularly disadvantaged Rome suburb – to exchange information, identify needs and to offer support. Often the Foundazione is contacted by generous people who want to donate medications, healthcare aids such as wheelchairs, hospital beds, iv supports and through these people it is possible to identify families in need and make sure that all this equipment is of use.

Psychological and social service help is also offered.

The aims of the Foundazione are what Lady Ryder is known for all over the world, to:

  • Help to elderly and sick people that cannot afford private nursing treatments 
  • Better management of symptoms 
  • Better quality of life for patients allowing them to stay as long as possible in their family and social sphere.

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