The Ivano-Frankivs’k Caritas started providing social-medical services for the terminally ill in January 2012. As part of the Palliative Care program in Ivano-Frankivs’k Caritas’ Home Care created a mobile multi-disciplinary palliative care team. It consists of two nurses, one social worker and a spiritual advisor. This was made possible thanks to financing from Caritas Vienna (Austria).
During January the Palliative Care team visited Home Care clients. This introduced the new service to clients and enabled the new team to meet potential clients.
A Palliative Care team is needed because the population in Ukraine is aging. More terminal illnesses are diagnosed and therefore a larger number of people need increasingly more help managing their symptoms and pain as their diseases progress.
Such patients can greatly benefit from Palliative Care, which focuses on pain management. “Caritas is now offering Palliative Care services which are aimed at improving the quality of life of patients during all phases of the disease process. These services reduce suffering, help patients remain mobile, so that they prevent complications associated with immobility, and encourage patients to remain as active as possible in the lives of their families and society,” says Olya Solyanyk, Coordinator of the project in Ivano-Frankivs’k.
The multi-disciplinary Palliative care teams will:
· Care for the ill in their homes;
· Assist with housekeeping;
· Teach individuals how to care for the ill and teach patients how to care for themselves and for those who care for them;
· Loan medical equipment;
· Provide spiritual and psychological assistance to clients and their families.
At the end of January, Dzvenyslava Chaykivs’ka, Coordinator of Health Programs for Caritas Ukraine conducted a seminar in Ivano-Frankivs’k entitled the Basics of Palliative Care. The seminar was held for medical and social workers employed by Caritas Ivano-Frankivs’k. The seminar taught staff how to care for patients who have opted to receive palliative care. .
The main emphasis was on the fact that palliative care is a comprehensive approach designed to maximize the quality of life of the ill while offering support to their families and loved ones. When needed, they also help family and loved ones come to terms with impending death.
In terminal cases, loved ones often want to avoid the moment of death, to do something nice for the person who is dying. The palliative care team from Caritas can help with this. Thanks to the mix of medical, social and spiritual assistance, they can help the patient find comfort in their final days. As Cicely Saunders said:
“You matter because you are you. You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.”