Agape House first opened its doors in 1991 as Bermuda’s only hospice facility, providing specialist palliative and hospice care for our island community. Owned by the Bermuda Hospitals Board and supported by Friends of Hospice, Agape House is staffed by an interdisciplinary team of palliative care specialists. Friends of Hospice staff, specialized contractors and volunteers provide necessary support with services including complementary therapies.
Agape House – derived from the ancient Greek word “agape” which refers to “the highest form of love, charity” which is the hallmark of our facility – was the brainchild of the late Hilary Soares, a British nurse who came to Bermuda in 1963.
The critical need for hospice care in Bermuda had been recognized more than a decade earlier, in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the community grappled with the lack of end of life services for terminally ill patients, in particular those suffering from AIDS. The demand for more expansive care services and a permanent hospice facility was quickly evident and following the efforts of Hilary to raise the necessary awareness, Agape House opened its doors in March.
Hilary was Agape House’s first Coordinator, with responsibility for the nursing and auxiliary staff and for the total delivery of health care provided within Agape House. It was also Hilary’s idea to form a charitable organization to support Agape House with much needed funds and volunteer assistance, which culminated in the establishment of Friends of Hospice. Before her death in 2011, Hilary was recognized for her pioneering work by being awarded a Member of the British Empire (MBE) by The Queen.
Agape House is located in a quiet garden setting within close proximity to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, and bordering the beautiful Bermuda Botanical Gardens.
Patients come to Agape House by medical referral to live their final days or to receive complete palliative care aimed at symptom and pain management in a caring and compassionate setting. Together, the teams from Agape House and Friends of Hospice provide patients and their loved ones physical, social, emotional and spiritual support through various programmes and services.
Today, the philosophy of hospice is to make the most of time left available to patients, finding ways to help actively improve the quality of life for the terminally and chronically ill, and their loved ones, once treatment for the illness is stopped. Hospice care is highly specialized, end-of-life care focused solely on comfort and quality. The goal of hospice is to enable patients facing end of life issues to live and be cared for with dignity in a caring and compassionate environment with full medical services, and complementary programmes and services for both patients and their families, and loved ones.
Similarly, palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses, providing patients with relief from the symptoms and stress of serious illnesses. It is typically introduced after diagnosis, and runs in tandem with treatment. The goal of palliative care is to treat the symptoms and side effects of illness and medical treatment. It also treats emotional, social, practical and spiritual anxieties that can arise from a diagnosis of serious illness, and aims to improve one’s quality of life.