Nairobi Hospice played host to 31Health Care Providers for a five day training in palliative care aimed at equipping them with knowledge in order to take care of patients with life limiting illnesses.

The Hospice Training Coordinator M/s. Jescah Ng’ang’a said that the training helps health providers change their attitude towards those living with chronic illnesses.

“At the end of the five day training, these trainees should improve the quality of care they give to patients as well as help pass the knowledge gained to others as agents of change in attitude, care and communication to palliative care patients,” said M/s. Ng’ang’a.

Antonina Mukanzi, a nurse from Molo sub-county hospital who attended the training said that she was informed of the training by the Nursing Officer in charge following an invitation letter sent to the hospital.

“I did not know much about palliative care. Following the training, I am noting that most of the patients referred to the County Hospital from our facility need palliative care,” said Mukanzi.

She said that she has discovered that it is not only the pharmacological treatment they can give as health care workers but there is a lot patients deserve including support in dealing with their psychosocial issues and involving the patient’s family.

Mukanzi said that the training is interesting adding that if one has not undertaken any palliative care training; there is a lot they have not done to their patients.

“We have been excluding the family and sometimes not focusing on the patient but her/his illness alone. This knowledge is great,” she said.

Sister Alice Ngugi from Precious Blood Sisters said that she undertook hospice training back in 1991 and has kept her notes since then.

Being a social worker, she attends to HIV/AIDS and other chronically ill patients and noted the challenge these patients go through.

“There is one patient I was seeing who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and would not talk to anyone. I approached the patient with the little knowledge I had about hospice care and she was welcoming,” said Sr. Alice.

With time, the hospital noticed the positive recovery path recorded and through the management requested me to keep seeing the patient.

“At this point, I felt that I needed to learn more in palliative care and remembered about hospice care from the notes that I had. I searched for hospice care in Kenya and managed to get contacts for Nairobi Hospice,” adds Sr. Alice.

Sr. Alice contacted the hospice and was luckily informed that there was a training coming up in less than a week. She registered for the same and is now better qualified to handle her patient and many others in need of palliative care.

“I have improved. I can now care for a patient, not only on physical needs but also psychologically by giving a listening ear and trying to understand other issues surrounding the patient,” she said.

She said that most nurses and doctors do not know much about care of the terminally ill and they should do their best to train in palliative care as this is deserved knowledge to medical practitioners out there.

Wanalo James is a Clinical Officer (CO) student at the International School of Medicine and Applied Sciences in Kisumu who was encouraged to undertake the training by a neighbor who is a nurse, terming it as a great course.

James said that whenever he is on attachment in a healthcare facility, there are patients he feels are disturbing as a result of their illness. “After attending this training, my notion has completely changed in terms of caring for these terminally ill patients. I have leant that I need to take their concerns positively.”

He said that he did not know that pain needs management but after the week-long training, he is equipped with knowledge on how to make a patient’s life more comfortable.

The CO student said that not understanding the concept of palliative care results in improper handling of patients mostly at public hospitals, a reason why most patients shy away from public health facilities.

He urged those who have not undertaken the course to find time and know more about palliative care.

This was the second training of the three classes Nairobi Hospice conducts yearly in April, August and November at a cost of KES 6,200/- for healthcare workers besides the Non-healthcare workers training in palliative care held every March and August at a cost of KES. 4,200/-.