Training community Health Care Workers (HCWs) is a great way of ensuring patients with life threatening illnesses access palliative care at home.

When a person gets ill, s/he goes to hospital and when discharged the patient returns home to his/er family members and the community.

It is these relatives who need the knowledge on how to deal with the illness and make the patient as comfortable as possible.

The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Programs Officer Mr. Bill Ouko said that the community sons and daughters who are learned, work elsewhere leaving their community men and women suffering.

Mr. Ouko was addressing community health care workers during their one week introduction to palliative care training at Nairobi Hospice.

He told the trainees that palliative care is not about HIV/AIDS alone but many other illnesses need this care.

“Even if you forget everything else that you have learnt, remember that you are a key pillar in offering the much needed care at the community level. I hope you are going to take the training home and implement the knowledge you have acquired.” He said.

The CRS Programs Officer said that they will carry out site visits sometime within this year to monitor the progress the community health care workers are making.

During the closing ceremony after the training, Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association Executive Director Dr. Zipporah Ali said community health care workers come in contact with most of the patients in need of palliative care.

“You have the patient’s trust and I hope this training will equip you with prerequisite knowledge on how to handle them even better as well as integrate palliative care in the communities you come from.” Dr Ali told the trainees.

She said that KEHPCA and its partners intend to have palliative care services all the way to the lowest level of health care provision given that they have started integration from Level 5 Hospitals across the country.

“Be compassionate and loving. Do not be embarrassed to show love to your patients.” Dr Ali told the trainees.

M/s Purity Wanja from Consolata Kyeni Hospital said that she had a cancer patient at home but lacked the necessary knowledge for the patient’s care but is happy to have acquired it at last.

“I used to try my best though the patient passed on, I am happy to train in palliative care so that I can help others.” M/s. Wanja said.

She said that she used to ask herself what to tell a cancer patient adding that it is a great feeling to learn that with palliative care, a patient can live for long.

Mr. Kenson Otuni from Christian Missionary Fellowship Health Care Centre in Narok said that he comes from a region of most palliative care need.

“We had a patient with cancer of the cervix but she passed on. If we had the skills such a patient could stay for more days and enjoy her life.” Mr. Otuni said.

M/s. Monica Ouma from Dream Kenya in Lang’ata said they have previously been referring patients to Thigio Hospice, 25km away but the training would enable them to handle cases at the centre.

“I did not have the courage to break bad news to relatives but after the training, I am equipped with tips on how to go about breaking bad news.”

Mrs. Rahab Ninga from African Inland Church Githumu Hospital in Murang’a said most patients in the rural areas die due to lack of information.

“We will go the interior areas and inform them what palliative care can do to their lives despite their illnesses.” Mrs. Ninga said.

M/s. Sarah Wangui said that she lose her aunt to HIV/AIDS after seeing her weak for some time which brought a lot of fear to her.

“Fear is actually lack of knowledge. With this information, I am now equipped with the necessary knowledge to handle patients with life limiting illnesses as well as sharing this information with my colleagues.” M/s. Wangui said.

The officer in charge of CRS Programs at KEHPCA Mr. David Musyoki urged trainees not to waste the knowledge they have acquired but use it to expand palliative care in the communities they serve.

The participants were thankful to Catholic Relief Services for sponsoring their training as well as to KEHPCA and Nairobi Hospice for the week-long training. They reported that the rich content that they learned has changed their knowledge, attitudes and perception towards care for those with life threatening illnesses.

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