SVYM palliative care unit, a ray of hope for many

Published - December 20, 2014 07:14 pm IST - MYSURU

Mysuru Karnataka: 19 12 2014: Swamy Vivekananda Youth Movements team attending to a patient in Mysuru. PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

Mysuru Karnataka: 19 12 2014: Swamy Vivekananda Youth Movements team attending to a patient in Mysuru. PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

Ever since she suffered a paralytic attack following a surgery to remove a brain tumour about one and a half years ago, Roopa (name changed), now 26-years-old, has been bedridden.

Abandoned by her husband, Roopa, who has a five-year-old son, is entirely dependent on her mother who she lives with in her modest house in Janata Nagar in the city. While she is being fed through a gastrostomy tube, her mother has given up work as a daily wager to attend to her needs.

The home-based care programme extended by Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement’s (SVYM) palliative care, which began in 2012, has come as a major source of relief not only for Roopa and her mother, but also for 318 patients from economically poor backgrounds suffering from terminal illness, curable and chronic ailments.

Mary, who leads SVYM’s palliative care team, said they are currently attending to about 98 patients suffering from medical conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, stroke, spinal cord injury, diabetes, and old age.

Sindhu Rashmi, who accompanies the team, said medical care, consultation and medicines are provided to the patients. “We also advise them on how to tackle issues like bed sores and psychological problems, besides providing counselling to care-givers,” she said. Depending on the severity of the case, the team calls on patients once or twice every week, she added. The team also provides non-medical services like food kits and basic home necessities in cases where patients are extremely poor.

Another important aspect of the programme is enrolling patients in appropriate social entitlement programmes of the government.

Shivakumar, who is the health facilitator on the team, said a large percentage of the patients are unaware of government schemes available for them to undergo medical treatment. “We advise them on the procedure to seek financial relief from various schemes like the ones available for disabled persons or through the Chief Minister’s and City Corporation’s funds,” he said.

The team recalled with pride how they nursed one Mahadevaswamy till he could live an active life, even after many people had given up hopes on his recovery from a serious injury to the spinal cord. The palliative care team was successful in drawing Mahadevaswamy out of depression and encouraging him to walk. “Now, he not only walks without help, but has also started his own business of recharging mobile phones,” Mr. Shivakumar said.

Contribution boxes

The programme is heavily reliant on the support of the community’s financial contributions. “We currently have 51 contribution boxes placed throughout local businesses in the city,” Ms. Mary said.

Apart from the palliative care team, which also comprises nurses Jayamani and Mary Catherine, the programme also mobilises volunteers including, doctors, physiotherapists, counsellors and social workers.

The programme provides a holistic approach covering medical, psychological, social, spiritual and even economic support to patients and their families. “This is the first of its kind in Karnataka and our goal is to create a programme that serves as a model for the State government,” Ms. Mary said.

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