Lend a hand to the terminally ill
Too many people are left unsupported in life and often left to experience indescribable difficulty in death, coming to the end of their days in helplessness and hopelessness.
Hence, we have always been fighting for the formation of a Palliative Care Association, which was long suggested and encouraged by African Palliative Care Association (APCA) that has made huge strides in the development of care for the sick and dying across sub-Saharan Africa.
Palliative care is an approach to the management of pain which aims to improve the quality of life of patients and families facing the problem of life threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering, by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, which can be physical, psychosocial, and spiritual. Hence, we saw the need of an In-patient Unit for the patients who are closer to their last days. It is in this regard that through the assistance of the American Embassy we managed to set up an In-patient Unit, where our patients approaching their last days will be accommodated. This is another positive strategy of up-scaling our services as an organization.
The rendering of palliative care services is never easy. It is challenging, most people involved in this kind of work are hugely overstretched in terms of work load and massively under-funded, and being dependent in many cases upon the securing of donations from whatever source they can be solicited. It is in this regard that I applaud the Hospice team for the incredible work they have done since the year began.
It also feels good to note that as an organisation we have managed to advocate and market Hospice services to the public, we also managed to train more professionals and non-professionals on palliative care issues. We still continue to send our staff members for palliative care trainings regardless of the limited resources. To all health professionals and Hospice at Home staff members let us strive to attain the level of being the centre of excellence, and also involve or consider every member’s input for the betterment of the organization and the people who need the palliative care services.
As an organisation we request that everybody in this country do something to improve palliative care services. We all have a role to play in improving our patients’ quality of life even the patients have a role to play.
It has always been emphasized to palliative care nurses that in hospice care, we give full value to caring. Central to care is a relationship between the caregiver and the cared about, in which the caregiver uses their knowledge, skills, compassion and concern for the other with respect and in accordance with their needs and wishes.
Palliative care nurses should always remember that as much as it is a fact that they do not have powers to cure their patients’ suffering, they can be with them in their suffering and help them to face it and find meaning in it. It is a responsibility of each and every palliative care nurse to make it a point that they do not leave their patients alone in such impossibly difficult times.
n According to a Hospice Palliative Care Training Manual health practitioners should note that care is directed by:
n Patient and family values
n Extending dignity and respect to patients and families
n Telling them the truth- insofar as they invite us to share it
n Offering them good information so that they can make informed decisions and act autonomously.
Actions to generate Holistic Care:
n Listen to the patient
n Be aware of the wider life context within which the patient’s health problems are set
n Try not to limit the expression of spontaneous emotion
n Provide the patient with a secure base from which he/she may explore their circumstances
n Ask for honest feedback from patients
n Help the patient to explore the role he/she may have in bringing about events/circumstances
n Draw the patient’s attention to the way in which he/she conducts her relation with you
n Don’t confuse distress with stupidity
n Be open to the prospect of getting it wrong
n Don’t assume that as a nurse you are in some way superior to the patient, or less vulnerable
n Don’t assume that what is unacceptable to you is necessarily acceptable to the patient
n Get supervision and look to your own wellbeing in this difficult work
n Encourage the patient to tell you their story and their version of events.