Dr. Avnish Jolly, 12th October, 2008 : Dying people have rights to live their life peacefully till the last breath. Hospice and palliative care is dedicated to provide medical treatment that concentrates on reducing the severity of disease among people suffering with life threatening illness.
The principle of palliative care is to alleviate pain, reduce suffering and provide psychological/ emotional help and to provide a network of support for their parents’ family and friends to improve the quality of life of the patient and his/her family. The origin of palliative care can be traced back to the hospice movement even during Mahabharata when Bhisham Pitamaha was at arrows bed at that time the dialogue between Lord Krishna and Bhisham Pitamaha advocates the rights of dying person, even when Rawan was dying at that time Lord Ram went to him. Many people travel from one place to another and fall sick whilst in transit. Hospices are established by the organisations that were designed to help many of the people who fall ill between destinations and as such did not have the care of their families. They provide a range of services like pain control, symptom relief, skilled nursing care, counselling, complementary therapies, spiritual care, physiotherapy, art, music and bereavement support.
Many organisations at global level have signed a joint declaration and statement of commitment to recognise the hospice and palliative care as a human right and made 11 October an World Hospice and Palliative Care Day. This declaration will be used to promote and advocate hospice and palliative care as a human right on 11 October and beyond. As the population is ageing, more people are finding themselves caught in dual responsibilities of life. That means they have to take care of their ageing parents as well as their own young children. Therefore, hospice care centres have come up to provide solutions to such issues of a family. As time passes, older people may become more incapacitated and require additional services. Here comes the need of some specialised health care centres, which are capable of providing not only daily care but also a specialised therapy programme to deal with the pain and stress of illnesses at that time.
The aim of hospice and palliative care day is to improve the quality of life of the patients suffering from life threatening illnesses like Cancer, HIV/AIDS, etc. by giving them therapies and psychological support. The health care providers help in dealing with distressing symptoms and pain, affirm life and regards death as a natural process of the lifecycle. They also offer a support system to help the family cope during the patients’ illness and their own bereavement; and use a team approach to deal with the stress of the patient’s family and friends. This process is clear in its goals and comes in place from the moment a person is diagnosed with the illness and supports them through the holistic treatment and care to the ultimate outcome. They focus on the physical, mental, spiritual well being of the patient and his relatives.
Hospice care organisations conduct surveys, studies and research to find out inovative ways to help patients. Research is being done on different subjects like health services, clinical support and social interaction for symptom relief, new ways of treatment and technology, bereavement and loss, needs of families, friends and care providers, improving services, evaluating costs and efficiency of therapies etc with community involvement.
• Health services – It involves issues concerned with identifying and assessing the needs of individuals and groups in society and how services are organised and delivered. It often incorporates health economic evaluations and population level epidemiological analyses.
• Clinical support – It includes the issues concerned with health care professionals such as doctors, nurses, and therapists. It is usually concerned with determining the efficacy of new treatment or ways to deliver care to patients.
• Social interaction – It involve studies to understand the experiences of illnesses from the perspective of patients and their care providers. It may investigate the process of care and the nature and quality of interactions between service users and health care services.
• Spiritual interaction – It involve studies to understand the experiences of illnesses from the perspective of patients and their care providers at religious and cultural level in accordance with their mental state.
These organisations for health care and support system invite volunteers to join the movement to help people. The volunteers provide some hours to the patients’ care and help provide social and psychological support to the family as well.
• Volunteers visit the patients often either in the hospital or at home.
• Give their valued time to the patients.
• Maintain the patients’ privacy and dignity in the care home with an accorded respect.
• Listen to the problems and provide solutions too.
• Show clear understanding of individual beliefs, lifestyle, religion and culture.