Bringing relief from pain and fear through community-based palliative care

I had wondered how it made sense to use already limited resources to care for the inevitably dying. However, it only took a few encounters with people with terminal illness to realise that ignoring their need was not an option. Where those dying were often relegated to the cow shed because of the odours that accompanied their cancers… there was no way we could choose to say no to palliative care.’

Dr Ashita Singh, Palliative Care Team

In India, we partner with the Emmanuel Hospital Association to support Chinchpada Christian Hospital’s home-based palliative care.

The hospital is in one of the poorest districts of Maharashtra, where nearly half of all local people live on less than $1.90 a day. Existing rates of cancer are made worse by the local habit of chewing tobacco which has led to high numbers of people developing mouth cancer.

Poverty and lack of awareness mean cancer is often incurable by the time people present with symptoms. As people grow sicker and develop distressing wounds, many end up shunned by their neighbours – and even their own families.

In response, Chinchpada’s dedicated and compassionate palliative care team work tirelessly to help people with life-limiting illness to live their last days well.

Led by Dr Ashita Singh, the team includes a nurse, social worker and trained volunteer carers. Visiting people at home, they provide vital medical and nursing care such as pain relief and wound-dressing, along with psychosocial and spiritual support. Family members are trained to care for their relative and how to access benefits, and have bereavement counselling when their loved one has died.

This means that hundreds of people can approach the end of their lives with dignity, peace and comfort.

As well as caring for patients, the team also work hard to show local people how to change high-risk habits, how to spot cancer early, and what treatments are available when they do.

  • £28 could fund a month of palliative care for one patient
  • £70 could train 3 local volunteers in home-based palliative care
  • £310 could fund a patient’s palliative care for one year
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Watch our interview with Dr Ashita Singh, on the need for palliative  home-care in India

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