Hospice, Palliative Care: Why you should care
Our loved ones, either in their final days or suffering from incurable diseases like cancer, kidney or liver failure, dementia, stroke, and other terminal ones, need hospice and palliative care.
Hospice is comfort care for those who have no option of being cured, or the family has chosen not to pursue treatment because the side-effects outweigh the benefits, while palliative care is comfort care, with or without the intention of being cured.
Unfortunately, there are only few such places that offer both hospice and palliative care in Dhaka. In fact, many of us are not even aware that such care systems exist that can make the final days of our loved ones more comforting.
"Palliative care could transition to hospice care if the doctors project the person is likely to die within six months," says Dr Shahinur Kabir, founder and consultant of Hospice Bangladesh.
Hospice Bangladesh opened its in-patient hospital at Dhanmondi old road 27 in 2022.
However, Shahinur has been working in Palliative care since his medical officer days at the oncology department in government hospitals he worked at after his MBBS.
There, he witnessed the sufferings of both the patients and their families, and wanted to work in this field of medical care. Since 2013, he has been giving home-based and tele-palliative care.
"After I came back from Singapore, where I getting further education on palliative treatment, I started my own venture with only four nurses and two oxygen cylinders in a room of my house. My objective was to give care to patients who opted to pass away at home amidst family," he said.
Hospice Bangladesh's services include Care@centre, where patients at their advanced end-of-life stage are given care according to their complex requirements. Their Care@Home service is for patients confined to their homes and require medical and nursing attention for palliative, hospice, elder, and transitional care.
Meanwhile, "Tele-Hospice" is a mobile app that allows one to easily manage all elements of their health and well-being. Besides, they also have diagnostic and pharmacy support.
They also have tele hospice service for remote patient monitoring for those living outside Dhaka, and also for patients who cannot avail nursing support.
"In majority case of incurable diseases, besides the intense physical suffering, there is the social, economic, and psychological aspect of the problem to be considered. We manage the symptom and try to make death peaceful. But to give this service, we need society to be aware of the need for such care and inform the general populous. We need doctors to refer such patients to us.
"The definition of quality life differ class wise. We wanted to help the middle-class to ease financial burden with our tele-care service, where the family member cares for the patients but are in consultation with us. For poverty-stricken communities, who cannot afford such care, Hospice Palliative Care Foundation is a charity project of Hospice Bangladesh. Its aim is to give care services to poor people with cancer or life-limiting conditions throughout Bangladesh," Kabir said, adding that in Rayer bazar slums, they have doctors and nurses who visit patients above 60 and provide medicines and food.
We all fear death — we don't want to suffer a painful one either — for our loved ones or ourselves. Places like Hospice Bangladesh want to make us aware of such end-of-life care.
In our society, such care can be expensive, but Dr Shahinur Kabir believes that if the government subsidises the logistical expenses, then grieving families can benefit.
There is scope to work on palliative and hospice care in Dhaka. We all have elderly parents and we are obligated to keep them happy and give them a comfortable end-of-life.