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The Concept of “Respite Care” in Palliative Medicine

Palliative care follows a patient-centric approach to treatment which is largely possible because of the unwavering support offered to the team by the patient’s family and friends. Terminal illness during progressive disease tends to take a toll not only on the patients physical health but adds a physiological and financial burden that trickles down to the entire family. While prioritizing the patient, carers often end up neglecting their own needs eventually ending up exhausted, drained, frustrated and depressed. They begin to seek a time “away from illness” and may begin to harbour feelings of resentment towards the patient leading to patient neglect and deterioration.

In such a scenario, “Respite Care” offers temporary relief to the carers for hours, days or weeks at a time depending on the requirement of the family. It can be offered in a wide range of locations such as a day care facility, inpatient care or even at home. It is financially less taxing as compared to a hospital based admission. It aims to give the carers time to recoup and rejuvenate. It could be simple activities sparking a sense of normalcy in their lives such as time for a movie, a game of golf or even a full night of undisturbed sleep. Activities understood as trivial by some, start holding relevance when seen through the eyes of someone devoting all their time to taking care of a loved one.

In simple terms, “Respite Care” is an integral part of Palliative Care which is given when someone else takes care of the patient instead of the primary caregivers so that the carers can have a break for themselves. This break gives them time to have some quality time for their daily activities and just relax in a sickness free time to overcome their own stress.

Dr. Naina Kumar, Attending Consultant
Dr. Sunny Malik, Consultant In-Charge
Department of Anaesthesia, Pain and Palliative Medicine, RGCIRC, Niti Bagh, Delhi

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Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Center or RGCIRC is the largest tertiary healthcare centre in Asia. Since our inception in 1996 in New Delhi, India, we have helped patients from across the sub-continent, SAARC countries and other places for diagnosis and treatment of all types of cancers. We bring cutting-edge technology while offering super specialised care in Medical. Surgical and Robotic oncology. Our alliances with internationally renowned institutes have helped us become pioneers in new approaches to treating cancer.

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