World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is organised by a committee of the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance, a network of hospice and palliative care national and regional organisations that support the development of hospice and palliative care worldwide. It is celebrated to support hospice and palliative care around the world.
Voices for Hospices is a Mexican wave of concerts taking place on the same day every two years. This unified day of support falls on the second Saturday of October and this year we celebrate it on the 12-10-2013
AdvertisementTo promote advocacy and build awareness, the theme for the World Hospice and Palliative Care Day this year is, 'Achieving Universal Coverage of Palliative Care: Dispelling the Myths'.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative is derived from the Latin word pallium, a cloak. In palliative care, symptoms are cloaked with treatments whose primary aim is to provide comfort. Palliative care is a part of ancient history as seen in the medieval hospices for pilgrims in Europe and the institutions built in India by King Asoka (273-232 BC). The modern palliative care movement was initiated by Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of St Christopher's Hospice in 1967.
Principles of Palliative Care
The World Health Organisation defines palliative care as an approach that improves the Quality of Life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification, impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.
Cancer has been the catalyst for palliative care but today we have a whole spectrum of diseases like progressive and traumatic neurological conditions, chronic liver disease, end stage kidney disease, lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension along with infections like HIV which have two things in common. One is the fact that they have no cure and the second is that they cause unimaginable suffering. Besides the physical, there is immense psychological, social and spiritual distress. In addition, the caregivers go through their own share of emotional upheavals. The multi-professional palliative care team steps in to address these issues. It includes nurses, social workers, palliative care physicians, physiotherapists working synchronously with the treating doctor and the caregivers. It is focused towards relief of distressing symptoms and pain using the WHO Analgesic Step Ladder and opioids when necessary.
Continuum of Care
Ideally, palliative care is a continuum involving all the components from prevention to management of the disease and bereavement support. It encompasses patients from the paediatric to the geriatric age group and can be integrated into institutions, hospitals and home care services beautifully. Palliative care relieves suffering and improves Quality of life for both patients and families throughout an illness experience, not just at the end of life. Today, there is the knowledge to relieve much of the unnecessary suffering. Tragically, however, palliative care is only reaching a fraction of the people who need it.
Central Message of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2013
Cure sometimes, Heal often, Comfort always, is the guiding principle in palliative care which is patient centric, dynamic, low tech and high touch. Promoting a partnership between the patient and carers, palliative care strives to add life to the patient's days and not merely days to his life.
Palliative care does not hasten or postpone death; in fact it affirms life and regards dying as a normal process. This brings to mind a quote by Rabindranath Tagore, "Death is not extinguishing the light. It is putting out the lamp because dawn has come."