I would like to write about some of the work I did in the last few weeks to give you and idea of what my job entails. It is divided into 2 parts - clinical duties and others eg organizational and educational.
We have a 3-bed in-patient department at the Belarusian Children's Hospice in Minsk. Several children were admitted for respite care and they stayed with us for 2 weeks each. I was the doctor responsible for their medical care. These beds are, sadly, often occupied by children who are receiving end of life care and that is stressful for all of us.
In addition, I had telephone duties when I could be consulted by parents whose children are being cared for at home or in other clinics away from Minsk.
From next month, I will start home visits because our second doctor responsible for home palliative care is pregnant and finds it increasingly difficult to travel. She will continue working in the office.
Recently, I started to organise weekly workshops for our hospice staff to improve their nursing skills and to increase their knowledge and general understanding of the diseases suffered by the children we care for. I have also written some programmes of care for them to follow. We all agree that these sessions are highly beneficial.
Over a two week period I delivered lectures to doctors who have not previously encountered the concept and practice of palliative care as it is a very young speciality in Belarus. These doctors need to absorb new ideas and skills and be convinced of the benefits of palliative medicine. They also need to acquire the communication skills needed to talk sensitively and constructively to children with terminal illnesses and their families.
I chaired a round table discussion in the city of Gomel which is the capital of the Gomel region and about 350km from Minsk. BCH set up the children's hospice at home programme here in 2000. The main purpose of this meeting was to organise the provision of respite care in Gomel and to discuss future palliative care activity within the framework of the new regulation document signed in January 2012 by the local government, medical professionals and our hospice team in Gomel. The meeting ended most satisfactorily as we achieved all we set out to do. The photograph was taken in Gomel.
In addition to my work at the hospice, I spent time over two weekends preparing a 1500 word objective essay on palliative care services in Belarus for the distance learning diploma course I am taking with Cardiff University. In a month's time I will know my marks!
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