Govt to Offer Home-Based Palliative Nursing Care in Chennai

Govt to Offer Home-Based Palliative Nursing Care in Chennai

CHENNAI: In an attempt to bring patients facing life threatening or chronic illness into its healthcare scheme, the state health department will provide palliative nursing care at their door step. Nurses will be appointed in each health block to attend to patients in about 20 villages in their homes, health minister C Vijaya Baskar told the legislative assembly on Wednesday . They will take a census of chronically-ill people, including geriatric patients, cancer patients, accident victims, burns patients and others requiring long-term home-based care.

“They will change catheters, urine bags, fix or remove tracheotomy tubes and administer injections,” said a senior health official. They will also train family members in basic homecare, including hygiene and sterilisation. Patients with symptoms requiring institutional care will be referred to the nearest district headquarters hospitals with specialists offering hospital-based care.

The state has also planned palliative care units in 10 dis tricts, he said.

Research world over has shown palliative care can improve quality of life for people with serious illnesses and complex, long-term needs, but many patients are sent home either because there is little doctors can do or because they prefer to be with family and friends.

“At our hospitals, patients say they don’t want to be on a ventilator or have resuscitation to extend life. Doctors don’t want to keep them in the wards because these patients don’t require institutional medical care and prolonged stay may increase their chances of acquiring infections such as pneumonia. We want to ensure we don’t exclude them from our healthcare po licies,” Vijay Baskar told TOI.

“Palliative care is not hospice or end-of-life care. It’s about helping people live comfortably as long as they can,” he added. Palliative nursing is slowly picking up in the state where there are some private service providers in cities. But most of them charge `750-` `3,500 that many can’t afford. Also, there aren’t many doctors or paramedics trained in palliative care that was declared a speciality more than a decade ago. The government estimates that each nurse may have to visit 5-7 houses in every village and aims to help patients stay in their own houses as long as possible and enjoy a reasonable quality of life.

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