The Compassion Project is the story of the Somerset town that beat loneliness. The small town of Frome reversed the worldwide admission increases to hospital, thanks to the simple introduction of kindness and compassion. What this whole town achieved was remarkable. Through daily mindful acts of care, it managed to change things for the better – both for this Somerset town, and the world around us.
Today so many politicians campaign for ‘more hospital beds’. But of course, not many people ask why so many are needed in the first place. Not many countries in the East have aisles of older people with dementia or arthritis or cancer or heart disease. The longest-living nations in Japan, Chile, Russia and Pakistan, regularly live to 100, and just get ill a few weeks before death. Most even go on working until then, or at least retain their faculties. When writer John Robbins looked at why they all lived so long, the key was in community, fresh air, a sense of purpose and faith in God – not calorie-counting, supplements or gyms.
Recently in the US, one of their oldest doctors died, aged around 104. He was a Seventh Day Adventist (so did not smoke or drink and was a vegetarian). He continued working as a cardiac surgeon until his 90s, stating that the main reason patients were worried, was when they peered up just before going under, to discover how old their doctor was! One thing he and his late wife did, was to always do things themselves, if they could. It’s plonking people in care homes to sit around all day, doing nothing, that does most damage.