TBILISI, DFWatch–After years of fundraising and hard work, a new end-of-life care unit for children living with life limiting illnesses has finally opened in Tbilisi.
The center is a hospice for minors who need a specific type of palliative care. At the opening ceremony on Tuesday, first lady Maka Chichua held an emotional speech about the importance of finally getting a place that can offer the highest standards of care for children in Georgia who are living with cancer and other life limiting illnesses.
“I can’t speak about this without being brought to tears. I am very emotional today. This is a great example of humanity and support. However, public awareness regarding this kind of problem is still very poor in this country and I would wish for people to get to know more about it, and get united to help and support kids who suffer lifelong diseases and help them easily get through it. I wish people will not die alone,” Maka Chichua said.
The new ten-bed end of life care rest home, located in a quiet area of the city, will be open from February 1 – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – providing free hospice care for patients under the age of 18. The hospice will be the only place in Georgia where children with a lifelong decease can get relief from their symptoms and stress due to serious illness.
According a study from 2013, there are around 840 children in Georgia suffering from a chronic, lifelong illness, the majority of whom need palliative care. However, despite such a significant number, the capacity for caring for these patients is lower than the demand on the service.
Tamar Kvijinadze, a home-care coordinator at Firefly World, emphasized that the hospice aims to reduce the number of inappropriate admissions and deaths of young palliative patients and offer them a decent environment to die.
“Unfortunately, I have to acknowledge that public awareness as well as recognitions of the problem from the families of the patients is a great problem in our country. Today, we have made a great step forward toward maintaining the life conditions of the palliative patients, but this is a drop in the sea. I always say the care is effective when all ring of the chain patient-team-family and society are involved in it. Exactly on this we are working now,” Kvijinadze told DFWatch.
Firefly World offers three forms of services: 24 hour professional care for minors and their parents staying at the hospice, a day centre where patients and their family may spend time receiving proper care, and homes providing special care by specialist nurses from the hospice. At the moment, the home care service is only available in Tbilisi, and currently being offered to 26 patients suffering a lifelong serious illness.
The new unit is made a reality thanks to the involvement of various individuals, the business sector and organizations. The project is funded by the Open Society Georgia Foundation and the Evex Medical Corporation in Georgia.