At the December Directors Retreat the Share the Care (STC) Palliative Care Project formally became a part of the KBNF family. The Share the Care Committee was warmly welcomed and their 2014-17 Plan of Action ratified by a unanimous vote from the Directors.
The STC Committee has been in operation since 2010 and has had an informal connection with KBNF since its inception. Marj Ratel and Dr. Jocelyne Lapointe have been valued mentors as the project “got off the ground”. STC started with a small group of volunteers who also were involved with Crossroads Hospice Society/Inlet Center Hospice in the Vancouver area. The members are largely active and retired health care professionals. The project developed out of an awareness of the desperate disparity between the availability of palliative care awareness, education and services between the Canadian situation and that in many other countries around the world. The practise of palliative care in Canada is around 50 years old, within the practise experience of a number of the project members. The committee felt that even a small group could make a difference in leveling the inequities by sharing our experience in practise, education and program development. After considerable research they were able to make connections with health care professionals in Ghana, West Africa. At that point there was only one physician, Dr. Mawuli Gyakobo, with palliative care preparation practising in the country. There was however, much wider interest in developing palliative care capacity. Thus Ghana became the initial focus of activity.
The question could be asked, why is there a link/importance in extending the vision of KBNF to include palliative care? KBNF focuses on excellence in health care. Palliative care rounds out that excellence in the continuum of care. Palliative care comes into play when the range of available, active treatments are no longer able to provide a cure and the focus becomes symptom management, comfort care and support for patient, family and community. This need is demonstrated in the incidence of cancer, traumatic injury, stroke and many neurological diseases like A.L.S. /M.S. It is particularly acute in African countries were the demand for care of non-communicable disease conditions is growing and people ask for health care assistance very late in their disease trajectory. Palliative care requires an excellent knowledge of disease process and symptom management, high level nursing care, psychological/social support and compassion. Palliative care is knowledge and heart power intensive, not dollar intensive. It does not require sophisticated equipment to be effective. It is best delivered by a multi-disciplinary team.
The objective of the STC Project is to:
Collaborate with health care professionals, relevant government ministries and institutions in Ghana and West Africa, to facilitate palliative care development through: professional/public education, sharing education/ programme resources, building capacity through consultation and help with supplies and equipment as appropriate.
To date the project has carried out two visits to Ghana, each two weeks in duration. The first (2011) was to learn about Ghana, the health care system, make connections and do an initial needs assessment. A relationship with the Ghana Palliative Care Association was initiated. In 2013 a very successful four- day, “Fundamentals of Palliative Care” course, was delivered to a multi-disciplinary audience of 60 health care professionals in Accra. This was based on a curriculum, collaboratively developed and taught with the members of the Korle-Bu Palliative Care Team, led by Dr. Gyakobo, along with other Ghanaian professionals, interested in palliative care. Time was also spent consulting with the KBPC team in a variety of clinical settings.
In April 2014 the project sponsored a week-long visit of Dr. Edwina Addo, who works with the KBPC team, in Vancouver. Dr. Addo visited a number of the palliative care programs in our area in hospital, hospice and community settings.
Future plans involve requests to return to Ghana in 2014 to teach the “Fundamentals” course in several locations and to consult on the development of an advanced practice curriculum for nurse specialists in palliative care.
The development of a programme/education for community volunteer care givers is under discussion. Opportunities to develop education exchange experiences for students and access for professionals to palliative care education/ conferences here, are sought on an ongoing basis.
During his recent visit here discussions were held with Dr. Gladstone Kessie about the need to develop services at Mount Olives Hospital in Techiman. He visited palliative care and geriatric programmes and expressed interest in both specialities for future consideration at Mount Olives.
The STC Committee looks forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with KBNF as the palliative care focus participant. Our goals, objectives and values mesh to add synchrony to our activities.
by Dawn McDonald