Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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 ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 491--498

End-of-life characteristics of the elderly: An assessment of home-based palliative services in two panchayats of Kerala


Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, West Bengal, India

Correspondence Address:
R Jayalakshmi
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, West Bengal
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0973-1075.191857

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Background: Home-based palliative services form the cornerstone of Kerala's palliative program. However, two issues need research: (a) whether family-homes can be considered as the locus of ageing and dying for marginal populations who experience deprivation and poverty and (b) whether the present delivery structure meets the needs of elderly population. These issues are examined in the context of two rural areas. The study explores end-of-life characteristics of the elderly - their sociodemographic status and living patterns, morbidity profile, and functional status. It also looks into the accessibility and utilization of palliative services and respondents' satisfaction with different components of the services. Materials and Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional survey design is used. Data were collected based on the interviews of sixty service users sampled randomly from a roster of palliative care services. Semi-structured interviews were substantiated by personal field observations. Results: The study has found people living under extreme financial distress with inadequate shelter and poor social security provisions. The health profile is characterized by high level of functional dependence. Many dependent widowed women were living alone without appropriate care and shelter. The palliative program as perceived by the respondents is characterized by few doctor visitations and poor frequency. Conclusion: The study concludes that home-based palliation in its present form does not promote good end-of-life care. It lacks an integrated approach with good service-mix. It raises serious questions on family-home as the locus of ageing and dying for marginal populations, and suggests need for restructuring of the palliative program.






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