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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 13/10/2012

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A walkathon organised by Alpha Pain and Palliative Clinic at Trichur on the occasion of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on October 11.
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) When a hand was extended to help her, Khadeeja refused it and instead lifted her body on her palms and sat on a chair in the dining room albeit with struggle.

This was not the condition when the 68-year-old woman was brought to Alpha Hospice at Kaipamangalam in Trichur following a debilitating stroke 10 years ago.

"Khadeeja could not perform any task without someone's help. She was able to move after several months of treatment at the clinic but did not have the motivation to do things on her own. We realised the mental trauma she faced following the tragic deaths of her near and dear ones, especially her husband and sister, and helped her regain her confidence and zeal for life. And this has done wonders", says Savithri, the hospice in-charge.

Today Khadeeja is able to do most tasks without help. Savithri said the transformation in her was noticed after they recognised her talent in singing and encouraged it. She is now a regular singer at all functions in the hospice. Her songs are also having a therapeutic effect on other inmates in the hospice.

Several others like Khadeeja, who have been battling various diseases and disabilities alone in life, have found a new lease of life at Alpha hospice. Apart from these, hundreds of others with chronic and incurable diseases are taken care of by the Alpha Pain and Palliative Clinic at their homes.

Set up by Gulf-based K M Noorudeen as a charitable trust, Alpha has gone beyond the scope of the World Health Organization's definition of palliative care. While the WHO approach is aimed at improving quality of life of patients with life-threatening illnesses and their families, by providing relief from pain through early identification and treatment, Alpha seeks to relieve the patients and their families from other worries in life like children's education, marriage, housing, employment etc too.

It has launched a rehabilitation programme called 'Alpha Sakti' to deal with these problems. The trust has organised marriages of daughters of 32 patients under its care by providing each 30 grams of gold and Rs50, 000 in cash. Under the employment scheme, Alpha tries as far as possible to employ the dependents of the patients in the trust itself.

When Aisha, 38, was brought to the hospice in a mentally wrecked condition after she was abandoned by her husband, Alpha took her lone sister also along with her and employed her at the hospice. Later when Aisha recovered, she too was employed at the hospice.

Noorudeen, who is the chairman of Alpha, said he was prompted to launch the employment programme when a 14-year-old boy came to him after his mother was admitted at the hospice with Parkinson's disease and asked what he should do to support himself and his younger sister, who have been left alone. Alpha has also started an industrial training institute to equip the dependents of the patients to find jobs. Noorudeen said they have made arrangements to ensure jobs to those who are passing out from the institute.

Alpha was launched in 2005 with home care services. The Alpha Pain and Palliative Clinic with all hospital facilities, was launched in 2006. Located at Edamuttam in Trichur district the clinic provides home care, in-patient hospital care, out-patient consultation and Day care services totally free of charge to patients abandoned by the hospitals.

After registration, doctor's home care is provided within 24 hours in most cases but the patient could come to the centre at any time round the clock, even without an appointment. The doctor decides the medication and nursing care on regular basis.

Alpha centres are now confined to Trichur, Palghat and Ernakulam districts but the trust helps palliative care givers in other districts in the state. Norudeen has also plans to take the palliative care to some northern states and the UAE, where the concept of palliative care is yet to take root. He said he has applied for license to launch a pain and palliative clinic in Dubai.

Though Kerala, the first state in the country to set in place a palliative care policy and adopt community based palliative care, has high penetration of palliative care facilities compared to the rest of the country, many patients with chronic diseases continue to suffer pain in their end stages.

Noorudeen has attributed this to shortage of trained personnel and lack of clinical facilities. Even though the state has more than 400 palliative care centres, very few of them have 24-hour service. This means palliative care will not be available when the patient needs it.

With over 70 full-time care givers and a vast army of volunteers available round the clock to extend their compassionate hands to those who have been thrown beyond the sunny side of existence, Alpha stands out unique from other Pain and Palliative Care units in a state, where the number of chronically ill and bed-ridden patients is mounting as a result of rapid aging of the population.


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