British hospice ‘Casa Speranţei’ marks 30 years of helping the dying in Romania

Hospice Casa Sperantei, palliative care
Hospice Casa Sperantei, palliative care

Thirty years ago, Graham Perolls, a Briton with an interest in Romania who’d visited the country during the communist regime, returned in the aftermath of the 1989 revolution to see friends.

Healthcare system

It was in the mountain city of Brasov that he had an experience that would change not only him but ultimately, Romania’s healthcare system_ for the better.

On Thursday, he recalled visiting the cancer hospital in Brasov more than 30 years ago.

„I saw a young man in terrible pain, who simply died in a hospital corridor without anyone lifting a finger. For me, that was the moment that triggered everything. I knew that I could not accept such a thing. I knew that a long, difficult but very necessary journey for Romanian children and adults awaited me,” he said.

Having set up a Romanian partner charity, Hospice Casa Sperantei,  the Briton from Tunbridge Wells, who for more than 30 years ran a family car business in his home country, switched his attention to palliative care.

‘Hospital of the Year’

Over the years, the work has grown and expanded to other countries: Serbia, Moldova, Albania and now Greece.

Last year, the hospital was named „Hospital of the Year” at the the ‘Romanian Healthcare Awards’.

In the past 30 years, more than 45,000 sick Romanians and 100,000 caregivers were  helped by by Casa Speranţei, or Homes of Hope in the final stages of their lives.

The statistics are grim. In Romania, 172,000 patients currently need palliative care, but only 2 out of 10 patients_ 18%_  actually have access. Still, it’s a far cry from that day in the cancer hospital more than 30 years ago.

British Ambassador

British Ambassador to Romania, Andrew Noble, the honorary patron of Casa Sperantei attended the event. He said he was proud „to see how this foundation created by a British citizen…  has become a landmark in  the Romanian medical system. ”

„The benefits are numerous and there is a positive impact in the lives of those directly affected – patients, but also their loved ones…   and on the health care system,” he said  in Romanian.

Paradigm shift

Health Minister Alexandru Rafila also attended the event , praising the Hospices of Hope for creating “a paradigm shift”.

„It has been demonstrated…. that a terrible diagnosis such as cancer does not automatically mean (patients) have to live a life without dignity,” he said.

He said as minister he would fight for “the introduction of palliative care as a fundamental human right”.

Mirela Nemțanu, the CEO of Casa Speranţei said the last 30 years were about changing statistics for the better and „I hope mentalities.”

Loved ones

She mentioned „sponsors, donors, volunteers, ambassadors, the media; it’s about the team, about patients who fight, about patients holding hands in their last moments, about caregivers who are not left alone and abandoned after losing loved ones.”

“These 30 years are about the hope that excruciating pains can be relieved.”

The Casa Speranţei hospice was founded in 1992 in Brasov and introduced the concept of palliative care in Romania in the aftermath of the revolution.

Incurable diseases

It is the largest foundation in the country that provides free specialized services of this type.

The organization has two hospitals with integrated services, in Brasov and Bucharest, and mobile teams in 5 places (Bucharest, Brasov, Făgăraș, Giurgiu and Zărnești), for the care of people diagnosed with incurable diseases.

It has developed complete palliative care services, in the form of day care centers, outpatients, in patients’ homes and in the partner hospitals and a socio-medical center at Adunatii Copăceni for children and their families.

Romania’s future government promises to invest heavily in overstretched, underfunded healthcare system



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here