The Cancer Care Association is currently the only organisation in Sri Lanka which provides a home-based palliative care service.
The charitable organisation, with the guidance of Dr Upul Ekanayake and Dr Samdhi Wishwanath Rajapakse, started the home-based service for people with terminal cancer in 2011. The service currently covers the southern province, with plans to expand into the north-central and western provinces.
Terminally ill cancer patients who need support are identified and referred by a clinical oncologist/onco-surgeon. Consent is taken for the service and the team arrange an appointment with the patient and their family.
When the multidisciplinary team visit the patient, they identify any physical, psychological, spiritual, social and financial problems and how they can help in these different areas. This could include prescribing medication, arranging for a wheelchair to be provided, arranging counselling or religious activities and supporting family members. Patients are registered for palliative care at the oncology clinic and are given a card so that family members can collect prescribed drugs from the clinic on their behalf.
Sri Lanka has very few hospice/palliative care facilities for people with terminal illnesses. When there is no active treatment these patients are discharged from hospital and sent home to be looked after by relatives. Relatives find it difficult to provide the required medical and nursing care, and may face associated practical, financial and emotional difficulties. Therefore the home-based care provided by the Cancer Care Association is invaluable to providing high standards of care and good symptom management to patients.
Cancer Care Association
The Cancer Care Association was founded in 2003 by Dr Samdhi W Rajapaksa and consultant clinical oncologist Dr Upul Ekanayake, with the aim of ensuring physical and mental well-being of people affected by cancer.
The organisation also built a hospice for terminally ill cancer patients at Kurundankulama, attached to the Anuradhapura Cancer Unit, in June 2011 with beds for 26 patients. Admission to the hospice is by recommendation by the consultant clinical oncologist of Teaching Hospital Anuradhapura.
The Cancer Care Association is run with donations from organisations and individuals.
To find out more about Cancer Care Hospice, please visit the organization's website.