• Alysa Salzberg

Learning about life and death at an inspiring palliative care facility

There is something simple and beautiful about this portrait of the Swan House, the palliative care facility at Bern, Switzerland’s Inselspital. We see how spirituality plays a role for staff, as well as many patients. We learn the importance of jokes (and their translations), as well.


There are some surprises, including weddings – new beginnings in a place where you’d least expect them. Mostly, though, there’s a sense of peace and even a sort of joy and celebration of the lives that patients have lived and soon will be leaving behind.


If there’s any negative here, it’s that, sadly, not all of us will have access to care like this at the end of our lives. But maybe sharing some of the Swan House’s practices could make a difference. Because interestingly, most of what makes up the peaceful, loving ambiance would cost little or even nothing to implement in hospitals as well as home-based palliative care programs around the world. Here’s hoping some copycats will spring up.


Read on to learn more about what it’s like at the Swan House.




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