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Palliative Care Training for healthcare workers in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand government has decided to train its healthcare and social workers in palliative care to relieve the suffering of patients with Coronavirus infection and their families. Palliative care is the alleviation of serious illness related suffering of the patient and the family. It involves prevention, assessment and management of symptoms including pain, breathlessness, and agitation, and providing psychological, social, and spiritual support.

To this effect, the National Health Mission, Uttarakhand will train doctors, staff nurses, social workers, and paramedical staff to undergo this training to be conducted by Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences, a WHO collaborating center for policy and training on access to pain relief based in Kerala. Close to 300 people have already enrolled for the weekly online training.  

Having undergone the basic training, a social worker from Uttarakhand said, “I was happy to attend the course. Some of the most important points were communications, psychosocial and spiritual issues, grief, and bereavement along with the importance of the mental health of caregivers (us) during COVID-19. I am grateful to Pallium India for all their efforts. We are forever grateful.”

A medical officer at a public hospital in Uttarakhand added, “I learned to not get agitated during my work and listen to the patient and their family patiently. To take more time in understanding them and not to rush to any decision or advice. Check my emotions. Use of psychotherapy and drugs in palliative care.” 

To sustainably manage COVID 19, few palliative care experts in Kerala came together to form an informal task force (PallicovidKerala) to develop an e-book on guidelines for integration of palliative care with COVID-care.  Aimed at healthcare professionals in their tireless battle against the pandemic, the algorithm-based e-book derived from evidence-based guidelines and advisories from around the world helps enhance their existing skill sets. 

Applauding the efforts of the PallicovidKerala team, State Nodal Officer National Program for Palliative Care Dr. Fareeduzzafar said, “This is a very commendable task and we are happy that our healthcare workers are being empowered with the relevant palliative care tools to sustainably manage COVID 19. We have received good feedback from the participants and are grateful to the team providing the training.”

Sessions are conducted on the ECHO platform and participants meet for five days, 1hr 15min daily to go through a lecture, case study, and open discussions. This rapidly equips them to practice palliative care, relevant to meet the needs of the patient and their families who are going through suffering and anticipatory grief. Acknowledging the efforts of the Uttarakhand government, Dr. M R Rajagopal, Director, Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences said, “I congratulate the Uttarakhand Government in seeing the value of this training and encouraging the service providers to participate and learn how to be more compassionate and take informed decisions for treatment and self-care as well.  This simple solution if adopted by all governments will immeasurably bolster our healthcare force for the current and future emergencies.” 

Topics of online training include the relevance of Palliative Care in COVID 19 and concept of grief and bereavement, management of important symptoms in COVID 19 (Cough, Breathlessness/delirium/Fever/ Myalgia), how to provide emotional support by applying basic principles of communication, triage in COVID 19 with special reference to the management of ethical issues, psychosocial interventions in COVID 19, and burn-out and self-care, a statement issued here by Pallium India said. 

Pallium India (www.palliumindia.org) is a national registered trust formed to address the needs of people who are suffering from terrible pain and isolation due to cancer, AIDS, paralysis or other prolonged, debilitating illness. Pallium India strives to address the needless suffering of those millions in India and enable them to live a life of dignity and self-respect. Pallium India works in collaboration with several national and international organisations to improve the accessibility and affordability of pain relief drugs (opioids) and other low cost medicines, to ensure the availability of palliative care services in India and to improve the quality of palliative care services provided by the healthcare and allied health care professionals. 

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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