Travel date: August 16, 2016
Name of Meeting/Event/Activity: 5th International African Palliative Care Conference
Origin: Nairobi, Kenya / Destination: Kampala, Uganda
I shared on the integration of legal aspects in palliative care model in Kenya, lessons, best practices and impact of legal support on the life’s of palliative care patients and their families, the role of palliative care providers; and strategies for the future integration of legal support in palliative care services in Kenya. This enabled me reflect on the legal work I do and the impact it has to the recipients of care. The conference enabled me and the other team members sit together to organize and come to an agreement on how to conduct the session. I was able to reflect further and read more on the task in order to be informed of the global perspective of the subject. This has enabled me to be more knowledgeable. The meetings also enabled me meet and interact with other providers of the legal services especially in other African countries including Uganda, Malawi and South Africa learning on their strategies of integrating legal aspects work in palliation
Based on feedback received during the interaction session, I was able to identify opportunities of scale up of the service by strategically engaging with hospices that are interested in the service and also based on the needs expressed by their clients. The work done has been published on ecancer journal. Please see the link; http://ecancer.org/journal/10/656-integration-of-legal-aspects-and-human-rights-approach-in-palliative-care-delivery-the-nyeri-hospice-model.php; participating in the conference has encouraged me to share best practices in other platforms and journals as well as conduct surveys and research on the subject. I also learned that documentation and records of various successes can be utilized to inform program justification, success and proper planning. Integration of legal aspects should also be prioritized by all palliative care providers since the patients and families who seek palliative care are faced by many legal challenges including need for information on will writing, dispossession of property and inheritance issues, appointing power of attorney as well as advanced directives.
I am very grateful for the traveling scholarship received from IAHPC. The call for scholarships was open and widely circulated. Please consider those from low resource backgrounds for future opportunities.
Mary (Not her real name) came to the hospice on a Wednesday as she always did during day care. She didn’t know the program for the day was different from the usual day care she always participated in. Shortly after sitting the social worker came in with a smartly dressed gentleman who was introduced as an advocate. “This is not a court, why should a lawyer be here. Is he suing the hospice or some patient?” wondered Mary. She listened keenly as the lawyer started talking about guidelines on making a will. Mary forgot that she was coming for daycare and felt like she was in a school that had organized some teaching for her since this was the information she needed at that moment. Her health was deteriorating and she really wished her property that had been acquired through her effort be shared by her only two daughters. Culturally, her wishes would have never been possible since being a widow and having girls was not permissible to bequeath properties to girls because they were expected to get married off. During the APCA conference, Mary explained that she never missed the legal aid clinics every 3rd Wednesday of each month at the hospice where she learned a lot and got empowered. She implemented what she learned by writing her will, choosing an agent to effect her will in the event she died and giving instructions to her bank on how she wishes her savings should be utilized when she will die. “I am now a ‘learned friend’ at the community” says Mary, referring to her being like a ‘lawyer’, empowered with information that she utilizes to educate other community members and fellow patients. The scenario above reflects the situation that many patients faced by life threatening illnesses go through in Kenya. Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care association (KEHPCA) has been supporting the integration of legal aspects in palliative care, a program that I am involved in. The success of this program has enabled the development of the model that we shared during the APCA conference 2016. The model involves empowerment of lawyers on palliative care concepts, paralegals on basic legal knowledge and health rights and patients/ family members on their entitlements and responsibilities. This knowledge is translated to action by encouraging all to implement by writing valid wills, appointing power of attorneys, become human and health rights advocates, ensure safe custody of children, advocate for availability of essential palliative care medicines among others. For holistic care approach to patients and family members, it is recommended that all palliative care providers should consider integrating legal aspects in palliative care provision.