Letters / Opinions — 29 April 2011

A report of the meeting regarding The Last Resort, Maneesha’s hospice project, held in Devon, UK on 9th April 2011

The first-ever meeting regarding the proposal for a meditative hospice was held in the UK on April 9th, 2011. Forty of us, almost all sannyasins, met in the Buckland-in-the-Moor Village Hall, in South Devon. It was a blast to see so many familiar faces again, and to kick off with dancing to some much-loved songs such as ‘I’m here to wake up to this day,’ and ‘Love is the fire’.

Samant, Maneesha, Yatro
Samant, Maneesha, Yatro

The meeting covered a lot of territory. For example, participants raised issues about ‘green burials’ vs cremation; about what sort of regulations we would need to comply with; whether we wanted advice from the Tibetan Buddhists; and the fact that Osho’s And Now and Here, provides the most on death of any of his books. What follows is a resume of only the main areas of information discussed.

I (Maneesha) started, by reminding participants of the original idea for a hospice run according to Osho’s vision (see the letter about The Last Resort in Osho News). Simant followed on from me. Many of you may remember her: a sannyasin of 32 years, she was finance director at Medina, the commune in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. She also helped to set up the Purnima Meditation Centre in London in the late 80’s. For the past twenty years she has been with the NHS in public health, her work including commissioning palliative care and hospices.

Her task now was to outline the practical considerations of such a venture that several of us had been discussing over the past 6 months. “The ideas put out have been so far-reaching, so detailed and so wide in their creativity, that we felt it might be helpful if you heard some of them, in the hope they will provoke your questions and suggestions,” she began. “We haven’t got any answers as of now; no decisions that have been made than other to follow the vision – Osho’s vision – for this type of project.

“The ideas so far seem to fall into five general topics: Leadership, finance, the scope of the project, communication, and interface with the NHS, local authorities and other providers of care.” She suggested that one way to avoid the hierarchical structure common to many types of leadership structure was to use ‘Project Management’. Foundational to this approach is an agreement as to the aims and resources. It also involves, from the very start, a Feasibility Study. As its title suggests, such a study examines – from various perspectives, such as legal, financial and clinical – the do-ability of a project.

Simant went on to explain some of our options regarding how finance might be handled, and also the financial status of The Last Resort. That is, it could be a charity-based structure that’s independent of individual investors, or a market-based set-up, or one based on a form of insurance: people who wanted to die in The Last Resort could start paying insurance from the beginning. She also listed some of the costs involved: that of renting or buying a facility, of employing staff, and so on.

Under ‘Scope’ Simant listed some of the various forms that The Last Resort could take – as a stand-alone, bricks-and-mortars’ hospice that perhaps starts off with 5-6 beds; or as a facility that is part of a commune, or of a nursing care home; a community outreach service, etc. All of these could happen, she said, though some brought complications with them. The original concept, of a stand-alone hospice, was, she opined, “something that could be up and running relatively quickly because it’s a fairly circumspect service.”

Dartmoor, close to where the meeting was held

After Simant addressed the remaining two areas and responded to questions, she handed over to Yatro, who provided a resume of findings from the pre-meeting questionnaire she’d created in order to collect participants’ input. Essentially, there was overwhelming support for a hospice, various ideas of what such a place would provide, and the desire to participate in some capacity or other.

At the conclusion of the meeting, we looked at the question: Where to from here? A show of hands indicated a willingness to take the next step: that is, to commission a Feasibility Study, for which some donations were given and others promised. (This is now underway, with results expected towards the end of May).

For a more detailed report of this meeting, please go to maneeshajames.com. See the blog, ‘The Last Resort,’ and the entry entitled: Meeting in Devon. Revisit this blog regularly for updates.