Palliative Care Assistants in Dhaka help older people live better for longer

Palliative Care Assistants in the Korail slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh, are helping their elderly neighbours live better for longer by providing compassionate, home based care.

The Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance and the Centre for Palliative Care, Department of Palliative Medicine, BSMMU, are building a locally supported compassionate community model for older people with life-limiting conditions in the Korail slum of Bangladesh.

This work builds on the palliative care pilot model of Compassionate Korail project, bringing compassionate home-based palliative care to older people in the Korail Slum, Dhaka.

Palliative Care Assistants (PCAs), young people trained at the Center for Palliative Care, are key to the success of this approach.

The team of PCAs supported by nurses and doctors provide care to patients in their own homes. This contributes not only to the physical wellbeing and to the quality of life of the patients, but also to reducing loneliness and providing them with a place to express their feelings and thoughts.

The carer of one of the patients said: “The useful care support you are providing to my ill father is free and we do not have to pay for that. There have so many NGO based organisations in Korail. They used to come, take our information (data collection) and sometimes pay a little for that and then go away. They do not come back and provide support like you. This community needs your support; this project should be there to help poor people like us.”

A 65-year-old patient said: “You people are doing so much care and support for me and I do not have to pay a single penny for this.  Otherwise I would have died earlier.”

A 71-year-old woman, who was previously bedbound, said: “If you people had not come to support and care for me and provided physiotherapy then I might not be able to walk and I would have died earlier.”

The essential care provided by the palliative care team, with Palliative Care Assistants on the front lines, contributes to the quality of life of elder people in Korail Slum, helping their physical symptoms, reducing loneliness and supporting them to live better for longer.