Healthcare workers in Nyeri County have been passionate about palliative care. One of the concerns raised is the low number of children accessing palliative care services at health facilities. This has partly been due to the reason that healthcare workers have limited knowledge on handling the needs of children with life threatening conditions.
KEHPCA in collaboration with the Nyeri Provincial General Hospital (PGH) palliative care team organized a one day workshop to sensitize health care workers from Nyeri Hospice and Nyeri PGH on pediatric palliative care. The workshop attracted a multidisciplinary team of 23 healthcare workers which was officially opened by the Acting County Director of health Dr. Nelson Muriu. He termed the workshop as timely since he had also noted that children had been neglected for a long time.
In a retrospective study he conducted at the Nyeri hospice looking at patient data from the year 2011-2012, it was noted that out of approximately 500 patients with cancer, none of them were children. “Do we think that children do not need palliative care?’ he asked. He conveyed his gratitude to KEHPCA team for the training and asked for a longer training on pediatric palliative care since there is a lot to be learned.
Participants’ expectations included; learning how to take care of patients with palliative care needs, counseling and breaking bad news, pain assessment and management in children.
The facilitators took them through principles of pediatric palliative care, pain management and communication in children.
Dr. Mithamo the pediatrician highlighted management of common childhood cancers and encouraged the healthcare workers to actively facilitate their diagnosis and follow up. Most of the childhood cancer cases end up in Nairobi for treatment due to unavailability of the services in Nyeri County. There is need to start up pediatric oncology services at the Nyeri PGH.
She also noted that children with severe disabilities should receive these services.
“I wanted my patient to get better before referring him to palliative care. I have now learnt that palliative care should be instituted at diagnosis” said a participant. One of the nurses was happy to learn that she does have a role to play in ensuring these children receive adequate palliative care.
The team agreed to work with the Nyeri PGH palliative care unit as well as Nyeri Hospice to ensure children with life threatening conditions receive holistic palliative care.
‘Palliative care is everyone’s business’.