Social work in palliative care

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Hospices and palliative care units rely on social workers in their endeavor to offer comfort to patients with end-of-life illnesses.

Johnston Githinji is a volunteer social worker at Nyeri Hospice and recently shared his role and the duties bestowed upon him.

“I work as a nurse assistant and our role as social workers goes beyond the defined boundaries of the social welfare of the patient.” Mr. Githinji said.

He said that most cases within the area he operates are from poor backgrounds or opt for hospice care after they have exhausted their finances seeking for cure.

“As a hospice, we cannot chase them away.” He said.

He said a case presented to his desk is noted in the diary and after filing a report, a visit to the patient’s home is planned for social assessment.

“During the visit, we assess the level of poverty at the home with regard to social amenities including their ability to afford meals, the condition of where they stay and the financial demands including fees for the children within the family.” He said.

According to Mr. Githinji, they are able to recommend for a total or partial waiver in drug expenses depending on the situation they encounter at the patient’s home.

Patients who pass on at middle age have children in school and Mr. Githinji said they network to obtain assistance for these children.

He said they go an extra mile to ensure these kids have a decent life as some of them have no basic things a human being is entitled to.

“Sometimes we appeal for food and clothing from well wishers as some of the patients and their families lack such basic commodities.” He said.

When need be, Mr. Githinji said they take willing supporters to the families of their patients so have a touch of how the situation is and this has led to some continually seeking for more donations to support the patients.

He said that since their role is not definite, they have had land grabbing scenarios where they extend a hand in helping the family of the deceased to protect their land through relevant authorities.

Mr. Githinji said that they have split their daycare into groups across the month to enable integration of new members into specialized groups for sharing and gaining courage to boldly fight their ailment.

He said they begin with a general assembly in the first week and as the month progresses, sharing narrows down to groups with common ailment where they can share and give courage to one another on a more specific topic.

“I never understood life before coming to lend my hand in hospice care but if I exit, I would say I understand what life is like for the less fortunate people in society.” He concluded.



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