For Shi Liuqing, a nurse at the Hubei Provincial Cancer Hospital, the Palliative Care Training program, led by Project HOPE in partnership with the Hubei Provincial Nursing Quality Control Center, changed her approach to nursing.
In China, there are more than 4.3 million newly diagnosed cancer cases each year and 2.8 million cancer-related deaths, according to the government. Adding to the burden of mounting end-of-life health care needs in China are patients with non-communicable diseases in the terminal stage. In total, there are about 10 million people each year who need palliative care, but only 10 percent receive it. “In China, palliative care is just beginning and still has a long way to go,” Shi Liuqing explained.
The World Health Organization defines palliative care as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families coping with life-threatening illness by preventing and treating pain and assessing a patient’s physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs. The training HOPE provided taught Shi Liuqing to focus on making her patients comfortable instead of just caring for their clinical needs. Using techniques from the training, she started adjusting injection times to fit the patients’ needs rather than only focusing on if the patients were the right position for the injections. She also learned how to answer sensitive end-of-life questions and give patients and their families information and support. These techniques caused her relationships with patients to vastly improve.
Shi Liuqing is now the master trainer of the Palliative Care Program at the hospital and has trained 240 nurses. In April, she trained about 100 doctors and nurses from 23 hospitals in Hubei Province on the importance of palliative care. Shi Liuqing also works to educate patients, teaching massage skills to relieve edema and other techniques to make them more comfortable.
“I’ve learned a lot from this training and my work here, and I believe many more patients in China will benefit from palliative care in the future,” Shi Liuqing said.
Project HOPE has also partnered with the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center on a pioneering pediatric palliative care program to help young terminally ill patients through their last months, weeks, and days alongside their loved ones.
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