Karunashraya: An Abode of Peace

Where do you go when you have nowhere else to go? Many Bangalore-based advanced stage cancer patients seek out Karunashraya for palliative care.

Palliative care

Palliative care is a comprehensive approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing life-threatening illness, through the relief and treatment of pain and other suffering: physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

  • Provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms
  • Affirms life and regards dying as a normal process
  • Intends neither to hasten nor to postpone death
  • Integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care
  • Offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible
  • Offers a support system to help the family cope
  • Uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families
  • Focuses on enhancing quality of life

Making the last days comfortable

Karunashraya puts it more simply as ‘continuous care’ that emphasises on ‘CARING’ when all hope of ‘CURING’ is lost. They seek to substantially increase the comfort, support and value of the remaining life of a patient towards the end of their struggle.

Karunashraya’s motto: “Adding life to days, when we cannot add days to life”.

How Karunashraya supports patients

  • The key elements of palliative care include special nursing, specific palliative care around the clock and psychological and emotional support for the patient and family with the help of trained counselors.
  • Karunashraya also offers home care. Not only is a patients home their haven of comfort and support; more importantly, it is also an area of hope. That is why Bangalore Hospice Trust (BHT) decided to create a program that provides patient care within their family environment.
  • The Karunashraya team consists of nurses, social workers and a hospice doctor who provide palliative care and act as a counselors too, for patients and family members. They also educate family members to look after the needs of their charge like changing of clothes, sponging of the patient and giving palliative drugs.

All services are provided totally free-of-cost

Most cancer hospitals give preference to those patients whose disease can be controlled and cured through treatments like surgery, chemotherapy and radio-therapy. With the pressure on hospital beds, there isn’t much that mainstream hospitals can do for terminally ill patients.

Largely because of poor economic conditions and fear, more than 80% of cancer patients seek treatment only when the disease has advanced and/or has drastically spread. The majority of Karunashraya’s patients live in poverty.

Complete Circle of Care

With 11 years of in-patient service and 15 years of home-care service experience, Karunashraya has soothed over 10,000 patients and their families.

From the moment an advanced stage patient is discharged from a hospital, Karunashraya provides total palliative care so the patient can experience peace and dignity until their time comes to pass on.

When a patient’s care cannot be managed at home, when there is a need for medication adjustment or for more skilled care, Karunashraya is there for the patient and the family with the support of social worker’s, nurses and hospice doctors.

It is truly a haven that offers patients peace and dignity in the final stage of their disease.

In their own words

Sr. Alice has been in nursing for over 25 years and with Karunashraya for 9 months. It is obvious that her experience has been rewarding – her tone of voice speaks volumes for how much she cares for her patients. She provides anything a patient needs, even if it is just a kind word or a cheerful smile.

“Understanding the emotion and the pain of a person in the advanced stages of cancer is difficult. Try as we might, we can never fully comprehend what they and their families go through. Caring for such patients is equally difficult, it needs a lot of skill and the care givers have to be emotionally strong and empathetic.”

As she signed off, Sr. Alice’s voice softened and she told me how heart-breaking it was, to see youngsters come into the institution. And yet, mingled with her pain was a streak of relief. Relief at knowing that everyone who came here was assured of loving care and a dignified and peaceful end.

And somehow, just hearing the compassion in her voice and knowing that there are people like her, helping in places where I cannot, I felt a huge sense of relief too.

Karunashraya is located at Marathalli in Bangalore. For more information, visit http://www.karunashraya.org

Authors

Noella Ferrao & Elia Maria Peter are students of Communications at Mount Carmel College, Bangalore. Noella is an active member of theatre groups in Bangalore, and enjoys having deep, spiritual discussions over coffee.

Reading & writing are Elia’s biggest passions. Elia likes to believe that her glass is always half full, that her blessings are always worth counting & that life is always worth living.

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