Palliative care is a health care specialty that is both a philosophy of care and an organized, highly structured system for delivering care to persons with life-threatening or debilitating illness from diagnosis till death and then into bereavement care for the family. Palliative care improves health care quality in three domains: the relief of physical and emotional suffering; improvement and strengthening of the process of patient–physician communication and decision-making; and assurance of coordinated continuity of care across multiple healthcare settings—hospital, home, hospice, and long-term care.
The goal of palliative care is, therefore, to improve the quality of life of both patients and families by responding to pain and other distressing physical symptoms, as well as to provide nursing care and psycho-social and spiritual support. This also includes reducing the suffering and distress like pain, nausea, and psychological problems due to either disease or treatment related. This is why it is best administered by an interdisciplinary, multi-dimensional team, comprising doctors, nurses, counselors, social workers, and volunteers.
Not all medical colleges, hospitals have facilities for palliative care. MGMCRI has formed Hospital Palliative Care Team(HPCT) with specialized doctors from various departments like, Oncology, Anaesthesiology, General Medicine, General Surgery, Pediatrics which will be focusing on complex medical needs of chronically ill patients. These patients, in particular, are unable to coordinate their own care. Palliative care brings in caring and improves the quality of life for patients and families throughout an illness experience by addressing all these dimensions and bringing in a person centered care within the health delivery system. It is applicable right from diagnosis of a chronic disease up to the end of life. Today, there is the evidence based knowledge and skills available to relieve much of the unnecessary suffering due to pain and other distressing physical and psycho-social concerns.
The new Palliative Care ward has inaugurated by Dr. M.R. Rajagopal who is the Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Policy and Training on Access to Pain Relief and the Founder-Chairman of Pallium India on 1st December 2016. He has contributed significantly to the Amendment of India’s NDPS Act in 2014, the development of the Kerala Government’s policy on Palliative Care and Government of India’s National Palliative Care Strategy in 2012.
The palliative care department of MGMCRI is aiming for continued efforts to overcome the barriers to successful implementation of palliative care. Ways to integrate current palliative care knowledge into care of patients include multidisciplinary educational initiatives, research endeavors, and clinician resources by starting short term and long term courses in Palliative Medicine.