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
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
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?
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
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.
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
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
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
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."