About Us

Since 1979 Island has developed into a centre of excellence that provides quality palliative care services and support to those patients and clients with life threatening illnesses and the bereaved through comprehensive direct care.


‚ÄčOur History

Island Hospice Service was founded by Maureen Butterfield. Maureen's teenage daughter Frances, battled with cervical cancer. Frances died in 1977, a few days short of her twentieth birthday. After the loss of her daughter Maureen deeply regretted that in the eight months of her daughter’s illness, the word “death” never entered their conversations and she felt they were never truly prepared for her death. On a consolatory trip to England, Maureen heard about the modern hospice movement. Then, in early 1979, Maureen travelled to a symposium at WITS University to hear Dame Cecily Saunders speak. Saunders founded the first modern hospice (home of rest for the terminally ill) in 1967, providing high quality palliative care in Sydenham, south east London.  Maureen returned home to Zimbabwe inspired, and, with a few friends, organised an exploratory gathering in Harare. The response was overwhelming. So, further discussions followed, leading up to the meeting at which the fledgling service was constituted. On the 3rd of May 1979, the first Island meeting was held at UZ to discuss provision of ‘Better End of Life Care’ (EOL).  Island is an acronym: Integrated, Significant Living and Dying. The name Island came from John Donne's  poem, ‘No Man is an Island.


No Man is an Island by John Donne (1624)

No man is an island

Entire of itself

Every man is a piece of the continent

A part of the main

A clod to be washed away by the sea

Europe is the less

As well as if the promontory were

As well as if a manor of thy friend's

Or of thine own were

Any man's death diminishes me

Because I am involved in mankind

And therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls

It tolls for thee


Island Hospice & Healthcare

In 2014 Island Hospice Service changed its name to Island Hospice & Healthcare to better communicate the expansion of its services. In addition to providing palliative and bereavement care services, which remains Island’s focus, the organisation operates a nursing agency as a social enterprise initiative and its clinical team are, when required, involved in prevention services and campaigns. Island further offers services to clients who may have traditionally fallen outside of palliative care such as those dealing with trauma.



At the helm of the organisation is the board consisting of members drawn from diverse professional backgrounds and experiences. The executive director is an ex-officio member and reports directly to the board. Annual audits are conducted as part of financial management and accountability to donors and funding partners. Monitoring and evaluation underpins the organisations thrust towards learning, accountability and continual improvement of programmes. The staff complement includes social workers, nurses, doctors, development practitioners and support services.


Community Participation and Inclusion
The participation of the community is integral to the work of Island. The organization has adopted the principle of ‘Leaving No one Behind’ and has structures in place to ensure that the community participates in project planning, formulation, implementation and monitoring. These structures include monthly mentorship meetings with community home based carers and quarterly reviews with community and institutional stakeholders. Island implements projects upholding the principles of non-discrimination and confidentiality. Many staff members at Island have been drawn from communities where the organization works, often starting as volunteers


A Zimbabwe where people access quality palliative and bereavement care to reduce suffering and pain and improve the quality of their lives.

  • Pain management
  • Symptoms treatment
  • Counselling services
  • Bereavement therapy
  • Caregiving training


Island Hospice and Healthcare, being a centre of excellence, provides quality palliative care services and support to those with life threatening illnesses and the bereaved through comprehensive direct care, capacity development, partnerships, research and advocacy.

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