Pallium India has been running a weekly children’s palliative care clinic at the Sree Avittom Thirunal Government Hospital in Kerala for the past three years. Pallium India is a national registered charitable trust that aims to fight for the millions in India who are in desperate need of palliative care and the necessary pain relief.
Smriti Rana, who is Consulting Psychologist and Programme Director of the Children’s Palliative Care Project is considered the master of joyous interruptions, “she manages to turn a series of sombre medical procedures and transactions into a room celebrating a kid’s birthday party with all the toppings”. The article begins by introducing us to some of the lovely children being cared for by Rana and her team. We are introduced to brothers Arif, five years old and Altaf, eight years old who both have cerebral palsy. Altaf, Arif and the other children at the clinic are cared for by Dr Annie Varghese.
The medical procedures such as drawing blood are very difficult for the children, and many of them are often left in tears, but Rana always comes to the rescue. She has a box of toys filled with glitter pens, glitter bands, empty sheets of paper, building blocks and bubble guns which are sure to bring a smile to the children’s faces after enduring a painful procedure. Rana has mastered calming and soothing the children through touch, attention and communication.
Rana explains that “one of the biggest misconceptions about palliative care is that it is terminal care. This is not true at all. The simplest explanation would be that it is an overall management of distress symptoms. These symptoms aren’t limited to pain; it means financial, emotional, physical and spiritual support.” Rana continues to explain how the children’s palliative care clinic focuses on the family as a unit of care, and how in some cases the family remains in the care of the organisation long after the child has passed, “most of the mothers and kids have been abandoned by the fathers. The women aren’t breadwinners and the treatments are expensive, so in situations like this we find a vocational training course for the mothers. In the case of healthy siblings, we look out for education opportunities through the organisations Kutty Kuttam, or Little Family Initiative.”
Rana explains the importance of making sure that the children cared for by the organisation remain children and have as many normal experiences as possible, regardless of their conditions. Rana explains, “some of these children are locked inside their own heads and can’t have certain kinds of everyday interactions. Our attempt is to interact, engage, play, laugh and encourage mirth, which are also ways to manage and alleviate pain and distress.” To read the full story, click here.
Pallium India is accepting donations for the children’s palliative care clinic. If you are interested in making a donation, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Smriti Rana’s blog at http://palliumindia.org/.