Caring for patients living with life threatening diseases is quite a challenging task and has to go hand in hand with legal and ethical considerations. It is imperative to have in mind that there are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding life-threatening diseases which more often than not, subject patients into a state of fear. It is therefore important to know how to engage with patients and most importantly, provide them with appropriate information on how they should live even with their life threatening conditions. That is why KEHPCA’s Director of Programs, Dr. Asaph Kinyanjui and Advocacy Officer David Musyoki in conjunction with Tenwek Hospital, sensitized health workers on legal and ethical issues surrounding palliative care.
On 26th April 2017, Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) held a talk with Tenwek Hospital health workers, where they dug deeper on legal and ethical issues that must be considered in palliative care. During the session, Dr. Kinyanjui highlighted the importance of supporting patients with information of diagnosis and treatment. Health workers should be open to patients and in the process provide necessary information regarding their health. He also stated that patients should be encouraged to write a will as well as engage in a lot of conversation with their family members. The health workers should openly discuss the different treatment options that can be administered to a patient.
In addition, Mr. Musyoki shed light on therapeutic communication; the face-to-face process of interacting that focuses on advancing the physical and emotional well-being of a patient. Nurses use therapeutic communication techniques to provide support and information to patients. This is after the hospital management identified the need for nurses to be trained on it. Mr. Musyoki addressed the role of effective communication to patients, family members and communities. He also brought to their attention how to effectively break bad news; highlighting that one should first gather facts about the patient and family, evaluate their preparedness to receive the news, fire the warning shots and break the news as it is; in black and white. One should also be ready to manage the patient and family emotions.
A CME was also carried out in Kericho. It is good to note that Kenya Medical Association (KMA); a voluntary membership organization open to all medical and dental practitioners registered in Kenya has its division here. They requested KEHPCA to facilitate a discussion on proper pain management. Young and senior doctors attended the training and they promised to integrate pain management in hospitals and also make pain the 5th vital sign.
Finally, A CME was conducted at Litein Mission Hospital. This is after the hospital Director Dr. Munala requested KEHPCA to make a give a talk on pain management. The session attracted multi-disciplinary participants including nursing students. In addition, KEHPCA held a meeting with Litein Hospital management to discuss how they will scale up palliative care; by strengthening community outreach and referral linkages within the region, and also through resource mobilization and capacity building for healthcare to provide comprehensive healthcare services.
“KEHPCA will continue to advocate for integration of palliative care at all levels of healthcare with the support of various partners and friends of KEHPCA,” said Dr. Kinyanjui.