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Mary Baines—Understanding pity 

Mary Baines—Understanding pity
Mary Baines—Understanding pity

Philip J Larkin

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date: 29 July 2021

Mary Baines is one of the founders of the palliative care movement, alongside Dame Cicely Saunders, with whom she studied medicine. Her founding of home care as a principle for palliative care service delivery has been modelled internationally and her seminal research into the pharmacological management of patients with inoperable intestinal obstruction has been the basis for both clinical practice and further research endeavour. From an historical and contemporary perspective, Mary Baines’s chapter explores the need to balance the compassionate response with competent expertise, and argues that, at times, the latter may be more important. The skill of providing compassionate care where the situation may be unpleasant or challenge personal views and beliefs is addressed. She considers the relationship between pity and compassion, which is the subject of wider philosophical and theological debate. She argues that the Christian foundation of hospice is an important link to be kept alive, given the importance of the Christian faith to the founder, Cicely Saunders. It is also argued that the discipline of palliative care needs to choose those who work in the field carefully to foster sustainability in the next generation of practitioners, who can keep alive the pioneering spirit of the original founders.

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