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Charles von Gunten—The truth of time 

Charles von Gunten—The truth of time
Chapter:
Charles von Gunten—The truth of time
Author(s):

Philip J Larkin

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198703310.003.0012
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date: 26 November 2020

As a clinical physician, educator, and administrator, Charles von Gunten has demonstrated how the interface between hospice and palliative care can be both nurturing to the development of the profession and serve the needs of patients and families more fully. His experience through the San Diego Hospice and the international leadership programme is a testament to the adage ‘oak trees from little acorns grow’. In this chapter, Charles von Gunten suggests that there is a need for a sense of detachment to avoid over-immersion in feelings, and to allow the skills of the expert practitioner to come to the fore. This does not lessen the sense of compassion but delivers a more coherent and robust model of care for patients and families to engage with. An important issue considered here is the loneliness of isolation and how material resources do not always make the experience of chronic life-limiting illness any easier. Moreover, he argues that, above and beyond clinical skill, the essential component that both public and colleagues need from palliative care is time, which is, of itself, about compassion.

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