Palliative care practitioners from hospices and palliative care units across the county underwent a three day mentorship training workshop organized by Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA).

Three facilitators from Hospice and Palliative Care Association (HPCA) in South Africa conducted the training following a request by KEHPCA to capacity build the palliative care service providers with mentorship ability.

“The timing was powerful as KEHPCA has already started the process of enhancing access to palliative care and creating a framework to reach many.” HCPA’s Leadership Development Project Coordinator Clare Wylie said.

M/s. Clare said that this is part of the continuing development of mentorship to achieve the set goals in palliative care.

“Mentoring is about changing the workplace and need to identify what is needed to kick-start the mentoring process.” She said.

M/s Clare said that the leading palliative care organization in a country is a steering body and members need to take up a piece of this leadership to speed up palliative care in the country.

“When you stretch people and you see them stretching is very encouraging. You need a head and a heart to fly in mentorship and all we need is to sell the sizzle and not the sausage.” She said with reference to passing the baton of palliative care by mentoring others.

She said that there is a need to conduct a needs assessment before beginning a mentorship program and outline the success criteria otherwise the program will be a waste of resources.

“We cannot afford to waste resources by having lack of progress in a mentoring program hence need for a proper outline before commencement.” M/s. Clare said.

She added that there is need to work as a unit to progress towards reaching a given par in palliative care delivery.

HPCA National Accreditation Officer Ms. Esme Pudule said that most hospitals are reluctant to refer patients for home care because they are not guaranteed of the quality of care the patient will receive at home.

Ms. Pudule said there is need to improve palliative care at the home level because often patients need home care at the terminal stage of their illness.

She said that it is important to have palliative care standards to be followed by all as they give a scope of what is to be offered in this field of care.

Though it is appropriate to use mentoring tools in palliative care from elsewhere, Ms. Pudule said that it is important to share what works for a specific set up hence the need to share what works for the Kenyan set up.

To the participants Ms. Pudule said that the challenge for mentors is to be updated in palliative care adding that journals offer a good platform for one to be informed.

“It is great to note that palliative care is embraced by the Ministry of Health in Kenya but an area that needs development is having a common approach. She said.

To the participants, Ms. Esme said, “we believe in you and we know you will take the knowledge you have gained to further palliative care in the country.” She said.

Palliative Care development Officer Mrs. Sheryl Wust said palliative care barriers in Kenya and South Africa are similar saying that majority of health care providers do not understand palliative care.

Mrs. Wust said that most hospitals seem to be too busy to recognize the importance of palliative care within their setting.

“It is necessary to get palliative care known at all levels, even in caring of patients at the community level.” She said.

She added that it is a good thing to see mentors growing to become independent and give support to KEHPCA in passing the knowledge to others in their stations.

KEHPCA’s Executive Director Dr Zipporah Ali said that the association has come up with palliative care guidelines to be used by hospices and palliative care units across the country though they are yet to be approved at the government level..

“We had the intention of having them owned by the Ministry of Health and be approved alongside the Cancer Clinical Guidelines before we roll them out. Once they are approved, we would have a generic document to be adopted by all.” Dr Ali said.

She urged the participants to access the African Palliative Care Association (APCA) guidelines from the APCA website. She added that KEHPCA will do its best to avail palliative care literature to providers.

Dr Ali said that most hospices have their own standards while most hospitals are working with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) across all hospitals.

“We are looking forward to meet County Health Committees in the new devolved system of governance to involve them in palliative care.” She said.

She faulted participants for not taking advantage of scholarships and bursaries offered by various institutions for palliative care courses adding that in most instances, Kenya has had the least applicants.

“It is your personal initiative to access this information online but we will endeavor to avail such information to you when it is available.” She told the participants.

The Executive Director said that they are looking at a possibility of awarding recognition certificates to those who shall do good feedback in mentorship.

Most officers from hospices indicated that they have guidelines at their places of work but acknowledged that they are mostly used at the management level adding that the workshop acted as an eye opener for them to have the guidelines shared across all staff involved in palliative care.

Meru Hospice Programme Coordinator Mrs. Gladys Mucee said that they have been mentoring other centres including mission hospitals and they are able to attend to patients especially those in need of pain management.

“Most of our patients are in private hospitals and this training has empowered us to be able to evaluate the impact of our mentoring.” She said.

Dr Donald Aboge from Nairobi Hospice said that there should be a mechanism of following up doctors who have trained in palliative care.

“Doctors tend to hold up to patients for long yet this patients could benefit a lot from palliative care in their hands.” He said.

Mr. Elijah Musau from Machakos Palliative Care Unit said there is need for feedback after this workshop so that its success can be tracked.

“We also need to upgrade our education level to upscale palliative care provision in the country.” He said.

The need to pick on interested parties to train was reached at with those in charge tasked to pick on nurses and doctors who would train and practice long time palliative care.