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A Day-long workshop on "End-of-Life Counseling"

March 16, 2013: A Day-long workshop on "End-of-Life Counseling"

With Care Sanstha, Ajmer organised a day-long workshop on "End-of-Life Counseling" at Jaipur in association with Indian Academy of Applied Psychology (IAAP) and Rajasthan State AIDS Control Society (RSACS) on March 16th, 2013. 110 participants were present all through the session and were managed by a team of 11 youngsters. There were participants from Mumbai, Delhi, Udaipur, Ajmer, Banasthali, ICG and different colleges, hospitals and clinics of Jaipur. The participants stayed till the end which is an achievement in itself! Not only this but, as the feedback says, they also want to be there in all the future workshops...! Many of them are interested in the 2.5 months course on "End-of-Life Counseling" which will be organised in Delhi during the months August and September (tentatively) ... We had the pleasure of having Prof. Ravi K. Gunthey (President- IAAP), Prof. A.V.S. Madnawat (Professor, University of Rajasthan), Dr. Uma Joshi (Lecturer- Govt. College, Chomu) and Ma'am Usha Chelani ( Capacity Building Assistant, Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur) to be our prestigious guests for the event. We also thank Prof. Ravi K. Gunthey for his generous donation of Rs. 5000/- to With Care and wavering off 50 percent fee if the participants joined IAAP on March 16th, 2013!

Sr. Agnes Panikulam- a 76 years old nun from Holy Family Hospital, Delhi was the key resource person for the workshop. She is renowned in the field of Palliative Care and is currently serving an CanSupport an NGO working for cancer patients at Delhi as a Senior Counselor and Trainer. The sessions began with the first topic which was an interactive session on Psychosocial Issues at the End-of-Life. The participants were quiet initially but, after having told them that we appreciate participative approach, they started interacting. This was followed by the marble exercise where the participants had to balance their marbles on a cardboard, walk and put them in glasses present at the other end. The Director who also acted as one of the resource persons, played some tricks with the participants as soon as they reached the glasses' end. The participants who played this game were then asked to share as to how they felt during the exercise. Many felt happy, many said that they are learning, some felt guilty and were ashamed of cheating, some felt as if their goals were obstructed. This set the stage for the next topic- Emotional Issues Management. It was informed that the four major emotions that a terminally-ill person feel at the End-of-Life are- Anger, Fear, Shame and Guilt. We need to deal with each one effectively from time to time. Anger Management was dealt by Ms. Kavita Bhargava. The session was full of exercises and brainstorming sessions. Sr.Agnes praised her A+ student for teaching the subject so effectively! She felt proud to be her teacher. The other emotions were touched upon by Sr. Agnes herself.

Mr. Krishna Gautam, Project Officer, State Mainstreaming Unit, Rajasthan State AIDS Control Society, Jaipur then delivered an informative lecture on HIV/AIDS and works of RSACS during the workshop which was well appreciated by the participants. Mr. Krishna Gautam congratulated the Team for organizing the workshop on such a large scale.

After Mr. Krishna Gautam's session the participants were served lunch while the team was busy setting up the chairs in a different pattern. Once the participants started entering the hall, the Director segregated the friends and made them sit at different places with a new set of people. It was a brainstorming session whereby the participants were told to imagine that were going to die in 3-4 months time and were asked to share how do they feel? and what are the things they like to do during those months? They were given 10 minutes to discuss it with their partners and later speak it out aloud to others. The participants were more positive in their approach. The chairs were then set again in the same manner by the participants themselves this time. Sr. Agnes then related the exercise to Death Awareness and Response at the End-of-Life and then moved on to Observation and Response at the End-of-Life. While teaching this she taught how to observe a patient and his/her family when home- care team visits the patients. What all emotions or grief patterns can be found and how can we deal with them.

The participants were then given two situations- one of an HIV patient who comes to the counselor with his/her family and the other of a cancer patient who is being counseled by a counselor along with the family. After the role plays, Sr. Agnes gave her evaluations on them and taught skills of counseling clients at the End-of-Life. This was followed by the next technical session on Spiritual Issues at the End-of-Life. Pain Management and Healing again began with an interaction. It was taught that Healing is having complete mind, body, spirit at peace. It is more of a holistic approach. Sr. Agnes also told the meaning of 'Namaste' which is 'I bow down before the divine spirit within you.' Which she explained means that GOD is present in each human being.

The last slide said, "It is not the end, but a beginning..." which was explained by the Director. There are many more workshops to come and a complete 2.5 months course on "End-of-Life Counseling" which will be organised in Delhi first and Jaipur later on. The Director also informed the participants that there are IAAP Membership forms in the kits provided along with the Volunteering forms. All the interested participants can fill the same and submit them at the counter outside. In this was we got 47 student members and one life member for IAAP and 36 new volunteers for With Care. More expected...

The beauty of the workshop lied in the complementary combination of old and young. The activities were managed by Ms. Kavita Bhargava and the theory was explained by experienced Sr. Agnes. The programme then ended by a Closing Ceremony where Dr. Uma Joshi summed the sessions and also explained the concept of Palliative Care and role of Psychologists at such challenging stages of life. The prizes and certificates were then distributed to the special categories of participants, active volunteers and to all the other participants. The day ended by the National Anthem.

The feedback forms say that the quality of food was good. Kits and study material are rated Extraordinary by most of the candidates. The participants mentioned that the sessions were clear and informative. Most of them praised the session on Anger Management. They loved listening to live examples of Sr. Agnes. Mike system and lighting of the hall was not proper which will be taken care of next time.