In order to get acquainted with the topic of palliative care, care of seriously ill persons and its significance, 7 accredited trainings were held in 19 cities and municipalities in Serbia, from November 2019 to June 2020. The trainings were attended by 127 participants from the social protection system and local governments (Šabac, Valjevo, Pančevo, Vršac, Užice, Priboj, Prijepolje, Arilje, Kosjerić, Sjenica, Pećinci, Ruma, Sremska Mitrovica, Lajkovac, Šid, Mionica, Krupanj, Loznica i Plandište).

Palliative care is at an early stage of development in Serbia and it takes take of patients facing life-threatening diseases, including cancer, heart disease, neurological diseases, as well as children with disabilities and elderly. This type of care does not only include medical care, but also psychological, social and spiritual support, which is often lacking in times of illness, forming an integral part of comprehensive social protection. One of the most important goals of the training is to reduce the prejudices and shame that often go along with the illness, which will encourage people to turn to this type of help, and train professionals to provide support in the most adequate way.

The research conducted among the training participants indicates that the employees in social protection and civil sector are largely familiar with the principles of palliative care, but that its implementation is not systematic in most cities and municipalities. Suggestions for improvement include introduction of palliative care as a social service at the local level; promotion of the importance and raising awareness about this topic; education of professionals and volunteers; as well as strengthening civil society organizations dealing with palliative care.

The trainings were realized by the organization Belhospice with the support of German-Serbian development cooperation project “Social services for vulnerable groups“, implemented by GIZ.