Good show Pratishruti… Great show Volunteers!

Dr. K. V. Ganpathy, the Course Chair and a Central Council member, IAPC

On Friday, 17th September, 2021, a sleepy & quite Dibrugarh, woke up to kickstart one of their biggest events – an offline workshop to provide training on the psychosocial aspects in palliative care to 60 volunteers of Pratishruti Cancer and Palliative Trust, who have been providing exceptional patient support, particularly during the COVID times.

The workshop, a blend of both advocacy & capacity building, was spearheaded by Pratishruti Cancer and Palliative Trust, under the aegis of the Indian Association of Palliative Care.

This workshop was a sequel to the 2 day online session on Palliative care held on the 4th and 5th of September, 2021- the first of its kind in Assam, North East India. The session was inaugurated by Dr. Sushma Bhatnagar, President, IAPC, followed by the encouraging address of Dr. Tapan Saikia, Medical Oncologist & Research Director, Prince Aly Khan Hospital, Mumbai. The online session introduced participants to the basics of palliative care, Communication skills, Grief & Bereavement, Social issues, caregivers burden and psychiatric issues, complementary therapies, spiritual issues etc.

The offline session on 17th September began at 9 a.m. in the presence of eminent dignitaries. It was a privilege that Mr. Biswajit Phukan, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Health) and Represented Deputy Commissioner, Dibrugarh, graced the occasion as Chief Guest. Other eminent dignitaries included Prof. Alak Kumar Buragohain, President, Pratishruti Cancer and Palliative Trust, Drs. Pranay Phukan and Reeta Bora Phukan from Assam Medical College and Hospital (AMCH) and the well renowned Dr. Prabin Kumar Thakur.

Both offline and online sessions were led in consultation with Prof. Alak Buragohain, who also went on to specially thank all the faculties for leading the workshop, in his inaugural address.

Prof. Buragohain, is a Post Graduate in Botany from Gauhati University and a PhD from the Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine, London, in Plant Molecular Biology. He has also served as the Registrar of Tezpur University and the Vice Chancellor of Dilbrugarh University, where he was credited with some exceptional initiatives.

Dr. Gauri Shankar Borgohain, the Organising Secretary, welcomed the course participants and the other members of Pratishruti’s Managing Committee.

Dr. Gayatri Gogoi, Organising Chair and the leading force behind Pratishruti, welcomed Dr. K. V. Ganpathy, the Course Chair and the Central Council Member, IAPC, to briefly introduce the genesis of Palliative care to the Chief Guest and to the audience.

It was our absolute honour that our Chief Guest, Mr. Biswajit Phukan, Deputy Commissioner, Health, GoA also addressed the audience and extended his appreciation to all the palliative care service providers. Mr. Phukan also highlighted the imminent need and importance for such initiatives.

Thereafter, Dr. Deepshika Thengal and Ms. Panna Bharali, each shared insightful presentations of two short cases. This was followed by Ms. Lukima Baruah’s impactful presentation on Nursing care. Ms. Asmita Kalita then showcased the excellent work done by the Nursing staff of Assam Medical College and Hospital.

Dr. K. V. Ganpathy summarised the insights and learnings from these cases for the volunteers, before proceeding to deliver an interactive session on Handling Difficult Communications. The session highlighted a volunteers’ role in identifying denial, anger, collusion and importance of addressing these emotions using the SPIKES model. He also threw light on the need for and the importance of picking up cues and thereafter alerting the psychologists / psychiatrist of the hospital.

Dr. Borgohain then enlightened the participants about Pain Management in a very simple yet lucid manner. The pre-lunch session concluded with Ms. Bonti Bora’s powerful sharing of a case which highlighted the pitfalls of collusion.

The post lunch session was by delivered by Dr. K. V. Ganpathy and was moderated effectively by Dr. Kaveri Bora, Psychiatrist, AMCH. This session was dedicated to the psychological issues of patients with advanced cancer, the various coping mechanisms, and Personality and illness and emphasized the importance of addressing these issues along with its contribution towards improving a patients’ Quality of Life (QoL).

The action filled day concluded with the distribution of certificates to both participants and Faculty members.

Dr. Gayatri Gogoi, shared that, ‘Over a period of time, further workshops will be organised to cover the volunteer strength of 350’.

I would like to acknowledge and extend my gratitude to the Management committee members, Ms. Manjula Aggarwal, Ms. Panna Bharali and Mr. Padum Poona Baruah, for their high quality administrative support which was a major contributor towards the success of the workshop.

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