Health  Russia Project #26098

Support Hospices in Moscow

by VERA Hospice Charity Fund Vetted since 2014

Just imagine: the very center of Moscow, Manezhnaya square, the city festival, and the VERA Fund's pavilion, where visitors get their make-up done and their hair braided, where Nyuta Federmesser uses a full-size dummy to show how to take care of a terminally ill person, where people learn why they should stop fearing hospices. These are not dreams, but reality.

We did have our very own pavilion at the city festival “The Easter Gift” where anyone could not only get their make-up done, but also get to know the Fund's volunteers, try to care for a terminally ill patient under the guidance of Nyuta Federmesser, our founder, and sign up for an introductory meeting for our volunteers. 

  • We had visitors who asked: what is palliative care?
  • Who are volunteers and how much do they get paid?
  • How many hospices does our company have?
  • Therapy dogs and concerts in a hospice - this must be expensive?

It is so cool that we had a chance to answer all these questions.

We also had a chance to explain that, at the last stretch of a life's journey, when one cannot be healed, one can still be helped in a professional manner.

We could explain that volunteers are highly motivated people, which is why they help the Fund free of charge, in their own free time, and in different ways.

We could say that concerts and events which happen in the life of a hospice are free for us and for our patients.

This was an incredible experience for us and a perfect opportunity to tell the public about hospice life, events, and people who turn a hospice into a real home.


The spring and the first summer month have been busy for the Moscow hospices: many holidays were celebrated, dozens of concerts and master classes were held, new flowerbeds were made, and, amidst all that, we still had a chance to sit in the shade of the trees and enjoy summer treats and pleasant conversations.  Last but not least, the Center for Palliative Care saw a first wedding in its history.

Many people dream of saying “I will love you until the day I die”, but very few can actually say that it's true.  Anatoly knows that: he is a patient of our hospice. His wife Olga and he share many things: seven children (they had two of them together), eight years of love for each other, a few cats and dogs, and several chemotherapy treatments. 

This spring they got married in the Moscow Center for Palliative Care where Anatoly is staying. A clerk from the Civil Registry Office came to unite them in marriage, the donors gave them a wedding cake, volunteer musicians helped set the mood for the event, and their friends and children were there to congratulate them and celebrate together.

The couple met when Olga (a charity foundation's director) were looking for potential donors, but instead found someone who needed help. When she met Anatoly, he needed a cancer surgery. Later, they faced a long and complex treatment and remission, when two of their children were born. Recently, the disease returned, and Anatoly needed palliative care.

“If not for palliative care, we wouldn't have come to a conclusion that we need to keep living, get married, and have a celebration. The thing is: what's the point of grieving? We enjoy every new day that comes and think about other things we'd like to do.  We are extremely grateful to the doctors and the whole team for helping us to get back on our feet. They gave us a chance to not think about the difficult part of the disease. Instead, we can focus on the joy: the joy of having each other, loving each other, and living,” says Olga.

One, two, three -- the bride tossed the flowers to the crowd of girls of all ages, among them, patients in wheelchairs, nurses, and volunteers. Of course, later there was champagne, appetizers, dancing, and jazz music.  Anatoly cannot stand on his feet anymore, let alone dance with his wife, but his hands kept moving non-stop, following the music. It does no matter how much time one has left: there is still enough time to do all that we can.



Our foundation has been spending the average of 258791$ to cover for the following needs of Moscow hospices:

01.03.18 through 30.06.18

Medical equipment – $28663

Meals – $2252

Financial support to hospice staff – $112435

Coordinators’ work – $110027

Other expenses - $5414


*We thank Veronika Demichelis for her generous help with rendering this text from Russian into English.

How can we make sure that every person gets help they need at the end of their life? We need resources: hospices, palliative care departments, home-based services; we need laws that would protect the interests of the patients; we need doctors and nurses, we need their hands that can ease the pain and ensure that our patients are treated with dignity till the end; we need volunteers and coordinators who can attend to our patients’ needs and provide them with care; we need publications and TV shows about hospice care so that people are not afraid to ask for help when they need it.

We strive to make sure that high-quality care at the end of life is available to all.
Highlights of 2017:

Olga, a hospice patient:
“When at the hospice, I am treated like a human being. I get stabilized so I can continue living for a while longer, enjoy my life and maybe learn something”.

Data highlights

  • A total of 16 coordinators provided for adult and children hospices and palliative care units in Moscow;
  • A total of 1400 events (joy carts, master classes, concerts, picnics and therapy dog visits) organized in Moscow hospices;
  • More than 2,000 volunteers donated 68,000 hours of their time to the fund and different hospices;
  • A total of 415 adult patients received support for their complex issues;
  • A total of 12 regional hospices and palliative care units received support from the fund (in the form of financial aid and resources).

Per Tatyana, the Chief Medical Officer for Palliative Care Center in Moscow, physicians providing palliative care need training on a daily basis. And we are talking not only about the constant need for additional knowledge in various medical fields; they also need to know how to provide social support, and at the same time they need special skills to communicate with patients and their families".

Data highlights

  • Russian and foreign experts provided training in patient care, pain management, communication skills, organizing assistance for severely ill patients to more than 500 medical specialists and social workers from Moscow hospices;
  • 600 regional physicians and nurses received training in palliative care for children;
  • 2990 physicians and patients’ relatives received free books and educational materials on palliative    care.

                        Without you, we cannot move the needle. With you – we can achieve a lot. Thank you!


Our foundation has been spending the average of 261516$ to cover for the following needs of Moscow hospices:
01.11.17 through 28.02.18

  • Medical equipment – $48639
  • Meals – $1150
  • Financial support to hospice staff – $106249
  • Coordinators’ work – $96279
  • Other expenses - $9199


*We thank Julia Linkova for her generous help with rendering this text from Russian into English. 

"Joy cart"
"Joy cart"

For us, this fall was full of milestones. We celebrated the Fund's 11th anniversary and the positive changes in the Moscow hospices, collected Christmas presents, and even made some dreams come true. Our donors and volunteers brought home-made pies, shared crops from their own gardens, and brought concerts, "joy carts", and therapy dogs to the hospices.

As we approached the World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, we presented our new communication strategy. For the last 11 years, we have been saying that if one cannot be cured, it does not mean that one cannot be helped. More and more people learned about hospices and realized that they might be less scary than they seem, and that the last hours, days, and months of a person’s life should be free of pain, filth, and humiliation. Now, we’d like to talk more about the importance of life for the rest of one's life. Therefore, we are starting our twelfth year with a new communication concept "Life for the Rest of Life".

In September, for the first time a head nurse became the head of a hospice in Moscow. A leader plays a crucial role. A leader is the first point of contact between our fund and the hospices. We are glad that the Butovo hospice will be managed by someone who saw what happens when the pain syndrome worsens, heard what the patients want, and understands what kind of support the relatives need.

The "Vera" charity fund organized the first conference "Palliative Care for Children", which had international participants and was supported by the "Lighthouse" children's hospice and the "Children's Palliative" charity fund. The conference participants attended lectures and masterclasses of leading Russian and foreign doctors, including one of the most prominent specialists on respiratory support Dr. John Robert Bach from the USA and the Chief of the Division on Pediatric Palliative Care at the Boston Children's Hospital, a speaker of many international conferences, Dr. Joanne Wolfe from the USA. 

The "Vera" charity fund has received two grants!  Now we will be able to develop two projects of major importance - "School of Care" and "Volunteers Help". 

A team of specialists from the "School of Care" will train family members, volunteers, home care providers, and medical staff in the basics of nonmedical care for terminally ill patients. For example, how to turn patients over without hurting them, how to feed them, how to provide all the "private procedures" while preserving their dignity, etc. In the future, it will mean that more people will be able to receive care in the comfort of their own homes. 

The "Volunteers Help" project has been training and coordinating volunteers in the Moscow hospices for many years, and now it will be able to do so much more! 

For example, we will organize more training sessions and meetings on the intricacies of communication with patients, their families, and hospice staff. 

These are only two out of many projects that our fund undertakes. However, we are very happy that we now have most of the funds for a whole year of these projects' operations.

We had a visit by Patch Adams himself! 

If you saw the "Patch Adams" movie with Robin Williams, this movie is about him. Patch is a medical doctor from the US, one of the founders of the hospital clowns' movement, and a writer. 
Patch travels around the world with a team of volunteers to support terminally ill children and adults. 

So there he was, in a patient's room of the Palliative Care Center, singing like Louis Armstrong while a patient was tapping the rhythm on his lap because he had been a drummer in his youth and loved the blues. 

Volunteers of the Degunino hospice came up with the idea of the "Wish Box" where patients can place notes with their wishes. One of them, Maya Vladimirovna, once wrote, "I’d like to meet Nikolay Tsiskaridze". Nobody had the connections to make this happen. But our volunteers wrote a post about this wish on social media, asked to share it, asked for help, searched far and wide, and it happened so that Nikolay Tsiskaridze heard about this. Two days later, he came to the hospice for a visit. And the next morning Maya Vladimirovna was no longer with us. It doesn't matter how many days one has left in his or her life. What matters is how much life there is in each of these days. We are very grateful to everyone who made this meeting a reality.

Thanks to the help of our donors and volunteers, we can proudly say that at the hospice, one can truly live one's life to the full for the rest of his or her life.


Our foundation has been spending the average of 206927$ to cover for the following needs of Moscow hospices:

01.09.17 through 30.11.17

  • Medical equipment – $13878
  • Meals – $12153
  • Financial support to hospice staff – $115470
  • Coordinators’ work – $61757
  • Other expenses - $3669


*We thank Veronika Demichelis for her generous help with rendering this text from Russian into English.

Patch Adams
Patch Adams
"School of Care"
"School of Care"
Celebrating hospice workers
Celebrating hospice workers

This year summer in Moscow was unusually cold and rainy, but we tried to make the best of every sunny day. At Degunino district hospice volunteers painted the benches in the garden. At Rostokino they brought rare plants for the hospice garden: bergenias, hydrangeas, Korean fir and many others. They even developed a real planting plan initiated by volunteer landscape designer Natalia.

In June all Moscow hospices celebrated the Day of care providers. Our coordinators and volunteers organized beautiful holiday at every hospice of Moscow. The patients enjoyed the holiday concerts and tasty treats, and the event was very important to the staff. When our coordinator congratulated doctors and nurses and told them kind words thanking them for their titanic work, they burst into tears because for the first time in feefteen years of their hospice work someone celebrated their efforts and input.

Life of Zelenograd hospice is full of events. Our coordinator has been busy trying to involve the local community – now this hospice already has volunteers who regularly bring flowers from their gardens, bake pies for the patients and demonstrate their talents at concerts. One of the patients said it felt more like maternal home than hospice here because here of all the love around. 

At Rostokino hospice patient Tamara and her husband celebrated sixty-fourth wedding anniversary surrounded by the volunteers, coordinators, nurses. Two years after they met they had been writing each other letters, and in the summer met on holiday in Chisinau. And when the correspondence stopped and they were unable to agree on the next meeting. Vladimir came to Chisinau and found out that Tamara was in Kiev. Without thinking, he went to Kiev. A week later they decided to get married — and since that day they never parted. Now Tamara is in hospice and Vladimir is near her, like all the years before that.

At Degunino hospice a new tradition and became very popular among the patients. That is holding poetic evenings. Last time professional reciter and actress took part.

As you can see, this summer at Moscow hospices was full of events and now we’re preparing for autumn and hoping tto have a few more sunny days for picnics and outdoor walking.

Our foundation has been spending the average of 149775,89 $ to cover for the following needs of Moscow hospices:

01.07.17 through 31.08.17

Medical equipment – $14881

Meals – $746

Personal care items – $1680

Financial support to hospice staff – $89984

Coordinators’ work – $40540

Other expenses - $1946

Man & Wife - 64 years together
Man & Wife - 64 years together

Systematic support

In March the process of creating one system of end-of-life care provision for all hospices came to conclusion. All Moscow hospices are now united with the Center of Palliative Medicine. This has been a significant work in cooperation with Moscow authorities. The results of this joint effort will allow apply unified quality standards and provide charitable support to all hospices in Russian capital.


In Degunino, a new and beautiful post for nurses has been equipped.  Also, new water coolers were installed, which is a great deal for a hospice. Throughout the winter, employees and patients drank water, filtering it through jar filters, which was very inconvenient, and the quality of water left much to be desired. And most importantly - it took a lot of time, which one simply doesn’t have to spare, when needing  to quickly brew tea for a  patient or just pour clean water for them.

For the Zelenograd hospice we bought beautiful, comfortable summer utensils, which the staff and patients had been waiting for. Another innovation for Zelenograd hospice was the new stress relief room  was arranged, with all the necessary furniture to create a cozy atmosphere.


In March, we celebrated Maslenitsa was held in all hospices. A real holiday was organized for the patients of the Moscow hospices and their relatives.. In addition to treats in the hospice, the first weeks of March came with performances by the choir "Ozarenie", ensemble "Bereg", etc.

On March 9, we organized a lecture by Dutch palliative approach expert Frédérica de Graaf  "How to behave with a departing patient. What to do and what to say. How to communicate with the patient's family. " The lecture was attended by 80 members of Moscow hospices nursing staff.

The second module of the basic course on kinesthetics (with the first one held in February) was held at the MRC from April 18th to 21st by Barbara Hunel. Participants of the module are nurses of the MTC, coordinators and volunteers.

On April 6, the three-time Olympic ice hockey champion, president of the Russian Hockey Federation, Vladislav Tretyak celebrated his anniversary. He decided to transfers all the 250 bouquets presented to him to the Moscow hospices.

In May, First Moscow Hospice along with others celebrated the Victory Day. For many patients, this Victory Day would be their last. And we made sure those who’d been through the terrors of WWII did not feel neglected. There were treats and small gifts, music and stories. One volunteer brought an old gramophone! Listening to the cracking sounds of old records seemed to have taken everyone a few decades ago. Veterans cried to  the "Roads", "Katyusha", "Dark Night" and other songs which reminded them so much of hardships and excitements of their youth.

In June, Degunino hospice celebrated its 15th anniversary. The holiday was vocal, joyful, and delicious. We grilled kebabs in the fresh air, taking the patients who were up to it and their visitors outside for the day. With a little help from the weather department, this turned out to be a real summer picnic.


On 8th of March, a widely celebrated in Russia Women’s’ Day, we invited volunteer beauticians to  Second and Sixth Hospices. They offered  make-up sessions, manicure and massage to patients and their visitors.

In early April  students of the Moscow Innovation Institute arrived to Degunino hospice. Along with our regular volunteers they cleaned and rearranged the territory after the winter.

Rostokino hospice also underwent a large-scale cleaning of the territory, and a concept for the greening of the hospice was developed.

"Thanks to our wonderful volunteer program, we have greened the chambers - we have planted plants, now they have them, and who should take care of them”, says Vera’s coordinator for 5 hospices. “The volunteers also dismantled the archive and warehouses. They’ve done an incredible work! And patients get great pleasure from communicating with volunteers, who always find the time, energy and emotions, to be around, to listen and communicate.”

Charitable support to Moscow hospices

01.03.17 through 30.06.2017  

Medication – $3,974

Medical equipment – $13,973

Meals – $11,120  

Personal care items – $73,731  

Financial help to hospice staff – $101,220

Coordinators’ work – $83,000  

Other expenses - $4,596



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Organization Information

VERA Hospice Charity Fund

Location: Moscow - Russia
Website: http:/​/​
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Maria Bakhtina
Moscow, Moscow Russia
$4,000 raised of $75,079 goal
79 donations
$71,079 to go
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