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Poster Numbers 294 – 318 – Ethics, education & communication: Poster No: 309
Changing attitudes to end of life care in Kolkata, India – using help the hospices Toolkit to develo
  1. Suzanne Ford-Dunn1,
  2. Liz Watson1 and
  3. Sankha Mitra2
  1. 1St Barnabas House, Worthing, UK
  2. 2Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, Brighton, UK


Background We were approached by the charitable hospital, Cancer Centre Welfare Home and Research Institute of Thakurpukur, Kolkata, to assist planning and delivery of a teaching programme introducing palliative care to their area. Until a few months earlier there had been no palliative care provision in Kolkata, but with a newly established domiciliary team and plans for a palliative care ward within the cancer hospital, staff needed to raise awareness among other healthcare professionals (HCP). A key barrier they identified was the commonly held belief that treatments/medical interventions must continue to the end of life, even if no longer benefiting the patient.

Aims to devise and deliver a 3 day programme on palliative care, particularly focusing on attitudes towards medical interventions at the end of life.

Method Small group workshops were the preferred method of teaching – encouraging discussion among participants. Help the Hospices Toolkit was used as the course handbook, workshops modified to suit a 3 day programme. A team from the UK (palliative care consultant, nurse educator, oncologist and oncology nurse) were joined by experienced palliative care practitioners from elsewhere in India. 150 HCP attended – doctors, nurses, social workers and physiotherapists.

Results Participants were asked to complete a pre and post course questionnaire designed to detect a change in attitude: 53% of participants before the course felt that medical interventions should continue even when the patient was not responding and was close to death, compared with 31% after the course. Participants also completed a knowledge test and evaluation – which revealed immense enjoyment and satisfaction with the programme.

Conclusion The project has confirmed it is possible to change attitudes with a 3 day programme. Following its success and popularity, a repeat event is planned for 2012, alongside growth of local palliative care teams in the area.

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