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CAPACITY study 3

Creating and evaluating a compassionate city in Flanders 


Project group

Researcher: Bert Quintiens (VUB)
Co-promotor: prof. dr. Tinne Smets (VUB)
Co-promotor: prof. dr. Lieve Van Den Block (VUB)
Co-promotor: prof. dr. Liesbeth De Donder (VUB)
Co-promotor: prof. dr. Luc Deliens (UGent)
Promotor: prof. dr. Joachim Cohen (VUB)



KULeuven Lucas


01-2019 to 03-2023

Abstract project


Whereas one time caring for one another was part of everyday life in communities, today formal healthcare services have largely taken over this role. The majority of people die after a lengthy phase of deterioration characterised by multi morbidity as opposed to a sudden and unexpected death. Since we expect this number to rise, the need for palliative care is also increasing. Many people believe palliative care equals specialist care, thereby neglecting that informal caregivers have an important role to play as well. This can easily be explained if we point out that palliative care should be delivered from the moment someone receives a potential life-threatening illness until after the person has died, providing care to the bereaved social surroundings of the deceased.  Since palliative care aims at providing physical, emotional, social and spiritual support, it becomes more and more apparent that formal healthcare services will not be able to address these  multiple levels of intervention. Compassionate communities are a response to the need of the reintegration of communities in the care for people and their social surroundings at the end of life.  Because palliative care is often formalised and informal carers providing end of life care are only limitedly supported, death has become socially marginalised and a taboo in many highly developed countries. One of the primary goals of compassionate communities is countering this taboo and putting palliative care on policy makers’ agendas and therefore back into peoples’ lives. They do this by implementing a series of social interventions aimed at the institutions of a community.

The aim of this research project is twofold: to describe the process of developing a compassionate city in Flanders, Belgium and to evaluate it on certain preconstructed outcomes.

This project will make use of a mixed methods approach. The outcomes will be assessed by making use of a survey which will be conducted in both candidate compassionate cities. The Most
Significant Change method will be additionally be applied by stakeholders to define the created value. The process will be described by making use of focus groups, interviews, observations, diaries and analysis of documents.



Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)