When palliative care is more than a last chance

International Conference of Indian Association of Palliative Care begins in Aluva

A 53-year-old dancer was shunned by her family when she developed schizoaffective disorder, which remained untreated for five years.

However, after volunteers of the Mental Health Action group found her and treated her, she gradually recovered and now lives peacefully with her son. It was the palliative care approach to a psychiatric condition that helped her get back.

It was one of the narratives presented during a session on mental health needs at the 26th International Conference of Indian Association of Palliative Care that began in Aluva on Friday.

According to psychiatrist Bindu Menon, there is no set palliative approach in psychiatry due to poor prognosis, unresponsive treatment, decline in physiological and psychological health and the patients’ outlook. However, psychiatric interventions are possible in palliative care.

For volunteers in the community too, it was an eye-opener. Training in mental healthcare made Prasela, an Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) worker, understand that mental health conditions could also be addressed through palliative care.

Crucial intervention

Palliative care is more popular for conditions associated with advanced cancers, paraplegia or physical incapacitation. Interventions in other terminal diseases have also brought about some changes in the quality of life of patients.

Sreedevi Warrier of Pallium India presented the case of an 84-year-old former nurse, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and was bedridden after a major fall. While she had people around her who loved and cared for her, she was agitated for having to depend others. She could not move about because of the severe pain her movement caused.

Due to her continuous immobility, her skin started peeling too.

It was a case in which palliative intervention helped her live life better. Case studies of dementia and head and neck cancer patients were also presented.

The three-day meet organised by the Consortium of Pain and Palliative Care Units in Ernakulam is a platform to hear voices from various fields, needs and community models. M.R. Rajagopal, a pioneer in palliative care in the country, led a panel discussion on ‘Voice of the Voiceless’.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 3:21:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/when-palliative-care-is-more-than-a-last-chance/article26219562.ece

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