Fruits of introduction of legal support to patients with life threatening illnesses in Nyeri Hospice are becoming evident.
Since its inception as a legal clinic in 2011, the clinic has helped in excess of 250 first contact patients and over 410 patient relatives.
The Hospice invites lawyers to offer pro bono services to patients and their relatives at given times of the month within hospice premises.
Nyeri Hospice social worker Mr. Johnston Githinji says that giving such information to one person creates a ripple effect and the message reaches many others.
“We have had many people stopping us and asking when we shall have our next legal clinic and if they can come, of which we gladly accept them to gain the skill.” Mr. Githinji said.
He gave a scenario where a patient who initially walked and stacked access keys to his property wherever he went finally granted his wife and children access after being advised by the Nyeri Hospice team.
One of the patients at Nyeri Hospice, who is a colon cancer survivor, says that he acquired the will writing skills from the legal clinic at the hospice.
He says that one must not be rich to have a will but anything s/he owns and wishes to share after dying needs to be laid down in a will.
“This process is cheap and effective when one dies. Not many people are trained in law and such a service has proved helpful to most of us.” The cancer survivor says.
He says that most people who have no knowledge in law could easily be harassed or misled by lawyers.
His wish is that legal classes be introduced in schools at upper primary level to enlighten the society about law.
A carer, who lost her husband to cancer, says that her husband’s journey after diagnosis was not easy.
She says that the doctors advised her that an operation was not possible as it could paralyze her husband given that the cancer had spread to the backbone.
“We were referred to Nairobi Hospice and later opted for Nyeri Hospice as it was close to our home.” She says.
She says that the support she has received from Nyeri Hospice is immeasurable to even that from her sisters and brothers.
When her husband was bed ridden, the staff from Nyeri Hospice paid her husband a visit at home and shared a lot.
“They made him open up and he freely gave me his bank account pin number and disclosed other accounts that I had no knowledge of.” The carer narrates.
She says that she is thankful to Nyeri Hospice because even when her husband could not use the crutches, a wheel chair was donated that enabled her husband to move around.
“We used to go for the day care where we learnt a lot in law from the advocates at the Hospice. This enabled me secure my husband’s Identity Card when he passed on for me to process property ownership documents that my brothers were already showing interest in.” She says. This also enabled her to have the right to bury her husband.
She added that there are a lot of people suffering and they do not know which way to go for assistance.
“All I can say is that let hospice care continue offering these legal services so that those who may face a challenge in succession can benefit,” says the carer.
She adds that advocacy around her home has become part of her life and from her own experience; there is a lot that is not known about cancer.
Her gratitude and thanks goes to those who are supporting this noble course and urges them to continue giving even more support for this service to reach many more in the country.
Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) has been working with hospices in Kenya to empower them to give legal services to patients and their families.