Over years, the HA has maintained a very close relationship with its working partners, including non-governmental organizations, voluntary organizations, patient self-help groups, etc., which together formed an extensive community service network. Under the palliative care service model, the HA seeks to further expand and enhance the collaboration with community partners, using its Cancer Patients Resource Centres as platforms to organize continuous life education, palliative care education promotion activities and training for patients and the general public.
Volunteer Service – Volunteers are indispensable components of an integrated hospice service. The HA recruits and trains volunteers to become “ Hospice Service Ambassadors” (HSA), instilling them with the positive concepts and attitudes in life, equipping them with appropriate care skills so that after training, they could join the Hospice Centres to serve patients. The main duties of HSAs are to provide psychosocial support to cancer patients and their families, such as experience sharing and ward/home visits. The volunteer team will also organize various cultural/social activities to take care of the different needs of patients.
Community partners and volunteers are the soul-mates and advocates for cancer patients and their families. They provide community support for the palliative patients and their families and complement hospital services to improve the quality of life of terminally-ill cancer patients.
During the treatment process, participation of family members also plays a vital role in providing care and consolation to patients. Therefore, family members also face immense pressures and appropriate community support and counseling is essential to relief stress and enhance their confidence in taking care of the patients.
Community Education –the Programme also aims at enhancing the understanding and concern of the public on terminally-ill cancer and palliative care service through various publicity channels and promotion activities, to help build positive attitudes towards end-of-life. Diversified strategies and platforms were used to publicize the objectives, scope and. impact of palliative care services so that more people is aware of and can enjoy a positive attitude towards quality life and quality death.
The HA has obtained the views of local and international experts through an independent expert panel and conduct in-depth research into various topics such as cancer pain control and adjunctive treatment. The research programmes had been started in the first quarter of 2008 in stages at various oncology centres of HA, including the recruitment of research targets and the rolling out of research programmes with tertiary educational institutions. The whole research programme is expected to complete in two years time.
Moreover, the HA will also evaluate the outcome of the Programme to further enhance the palliative care service for the benefit of more patients and families.