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Nakuru Hospice eases Burden for Terminally ill patients 

Nakuru Hospice Director Elizabeth Ndung'u pins a lapel on a participant during a golf tournament organized to raise funds for the hospice.

The pronouncement that one is suffering from a terminal ailment sounds a death knell. The shock that follows the pronouncement requires psycho-social support to cope.


Due to the ever increasing number of patients suffering from life threatening ailments, non-governmental and community based organizations have established support systems helping hundreds of Kenyans cope with the challenges of handling terminally ill relatives.


Many of the patients have had to get palliative care at their homes due to limited ward facilities with terminally ill cancer patients sharing the limited inpatient facilities.


Nakuru Hospice was born following Elizabeth Ndungu’s painful experience through the suffering of her dad who had prostate cancer between 2003 and 2006.


She helplessly watched her father slowly waste away and despite the trauma that she went through, she did not have anyone to offer her psychological and emotional support needed to deal with the changes taking place.


A desire to help others going through similar challenges was born and she embarked on a journey that culminated in the setup of the Nakuru Hospice.


She mobilized various stakeholders in Nakuru County who included the Ministry of Health among other well-wishers as a result Nakuru Hospice establishment was approved and allocated a building at Nakuru Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital (PGH) in March 2008.


The Hospice started operation in June 2009 in a two roomed office at the Casualty Department after signing a Memorandum of Understanding to be reviewed after 20 years.


The building was renovated with support from Safaricom Foundation with the Lions Club donating all the furniture and Hospice Care Kenya donated funds to buy the medical equipment.


The Technical Support from Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) enhanced capacity and skills for staff, Directors and stakeholders on how to run the facility, implement and maintain palliative Care Standards.Since then, the facility has registered many patients facing life threatening illnesses and their families for palliative care.


Palliative care involves taking care of patients with active, progressive, far-advanced disease, for whom the focus of care is the relief and prevention of suffering to improve the quality of life.


The organization provides counseling and psychological support to both patients and their caregivers in a bid to help them cope with the ravages of terminal illnesses.


The hospice relies mainly on referrals from health institutions. They give physical, emotional and spiritual support that enables the affected deal with the aftershock of the doctor’s report.


Contrary to popular belief, the hospice does not only cater for cancer patients but also gives care to people suffering from other debilitating illnesses such as HIV, Tuberculosis and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.It provides counseling services to help patients and caregivers come to terms with the medical conditions with a view to helping them adjust to the situation.


The hospice is also involved in arranging for chemotherapy, radiotherapy and psychotherapy sessions for its members, besides assisting patients’ access drugs at greatly subsidized costs. In some instances where families cannot afford, the hospice provides the drugs free of charge.


According to Calvin Manani, who is a palliative care nurse, the hospice does not just see its patients at the facility but staff also makes home visits and equips care givers with valuable tips on nutrition and hygiene.


During their cancer awareness drives, the hospice provides free cancer screening services as a way of encouraging people to know their health status. Early detection of cancer is very vital in the management of the disease.


One of the activities that the hospice uses to create awareness and raise funds for its activities is through annual walks. Every year, the hospice gets together with people of goodwill to raise funds.


According to Calvin, school children offer them a lot of support in reaching out to communities where they raise funds to support the worthy cause.In this regard, the hospice has organized its annual walk which will be held on 20thMay this year in Nakuru town.


The hospice hopes to raise funds that will enable them reach out to more patients while creating awareness on positive living.


By Jane Ngugi


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