Caring for the Patient and the Family

Rani, a cancer patient, lies in blood soaked clothes while her mother strokes her head. Meanwhile, three family members are yelling at each other, arguing about whether to take Rani home. In the corner, Rani’s aunt says a prayer.

In all of the confusion and emotions, only one thing matters: taking the best possible care of Rani. And in this situation, that means taking care of the family too.

Rani has cancer and is in the hospital because her blood cannot clot, causing excessive bleeding.  Everyone knows that she will die soon and Rani wants to go home and see her four children.

ACT’s palliative care team worked alongside local partners to improve Rani’s care, ensuring that she received the best quality of life possible. In many situations, this means not just treating the illness, but providing care to the whole person and, often, to the family.

To provide holistic care, the nurse took the husband aside to calm him down. The brother requested an order from a judge so Rani could go home. The doctor prescribed better pain relief. The junior doctor is sent to ask the senior doctor if Rani really is still well enough to leave the hospital, so she can see her children one last time. The mother is told she is doing a good job, and is asked to think about someone bringing the children to see Rani if she can’t get home.

Holistic care is at the center of ACT’s work in palliative care. And for Rani, holistic care meant intervening to not just take care of Rani, but to provide support to the whole family.