Worldwide, over 20 million people are estimated to require palliative care at the end of life every year. The majority (69%) are adults over 60 years old and only 6% are children. This means that there is still a large percentage of adults and children living with life-threatening diseases are not able to access palliative care.
One of the possible ways to enable more patients to have access to palliative care is to educate health practitioners on the matter so that they can be able to offer such services as they take care of patients and families.
Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) for the past 10 years has conducted several training sessions to equip health workers in matters of palliative care. This year KEHPCA recently conducted a one-week training of a multidisciplinary team of 26 health workers. The team represented 17 counties in the country; Bomet, Isiolo, Tharaka Nithi, Trans- Nzoia, Kiambu, Kitui, Elgeyo Marakwet, Nyandarua, Nairobi, Vihiga, Uasin Gishu, Kakamega, Migori, Nandi, Kilifi, Taita Taveta and Marsabit.
At the beginning of the training, the participants were taken through the induction process and how the learning will take place. Dr. Zipporah Ali, Executive director, KEHPCA explained to the participants that palliative care is supporting the patient all the way as they are undergoing treatment. “Palliative care is a rewarding battle because we impact patients directly,” affirmed Dr. Ali.
The team was taken through various issues in palliative care including:
- Palliative care principles & overview of palliative care in Kenya
- Cancer and NCDs
- Role of government/counties in Palliative care
- Psychosocial aspects in palliative care
- Pathophysiology of pain and assessment
- Pediatric pain assessment and management
- Nutrition in palliative care
- Communication and counseling in palliative care
- Breaking bad news
- Palliative care emergencies
- Role of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy
- Team work in PC
- Sexuality in Palliative care
- Symptoms management in palliative care
- Loss, grief and bereavement
- End of life care/death and dying
- Ethical and legal issues in palliative care
- Spirituality and cultural issues in palliative care
- Stoma and wound care
- Self care
Different knowledgeable facilitators taught the above topics as they engaged the participants through quizzes, pop up questions and group work. The participants learned that it is important to integrate all these aspects in order for the patient to feel whole.
The participants were delighted to learn more about palliative care and promised to use the skills learned during the training to help the patients with life limiting illnesses. The stoma and wound care presentation sparked curiosity and the participants were delighted to learn more on stoma dressing and requested to be taken through a stoma practicum session.
Generally the participants expressed that the training was resourceful and informative. “Visual presentations, helped us understand what we are learning,” commented Dr. Okiriamu, a medical officer at Langai Racecourse Health centre. Some of the participants also were interested in pursuing further studies in palliative care.
On the final day of the training, the participants developed their work plans, where they stated their short and long term goals in regards to implementing what they have learned. The work plan was important for purposes of following up and helping out as an umbrella association.
“Thank you for the invite for this noble course, whatever knowledge impacted will be put to use,” said Esther Anzaye a nursing officer at St. Elizabeth Mukumu Hospital, during the closing ceremony. The participants were awarded certificates on completion of the course.