BANGALORE: While people took to the streets to protest the administration of euthanasia to Aruna Shanbhag, who survived a horror but was relegated to coma and who is now in a vegetative state, the fact that there is no institution to take care of such patients in India has not gained the same amount of publicity.
However, for Roshan Jacob the ordeal of comatose and the suffering of their kin was a living reality.
Fifteen years after serving in the field, he took a decision to establish the first of its kind organisation in the country, advantAGE Seniors Foundation, a facility purely dedicated to take care of the terminally ill patients.
Located near the BDA complex at Indiranagar, advantAGE is more like a home compared to the grim looking hospitals.
Jacob told City Express that metropolitan cities like Bangalore lack a centre dedicated to take care of terminally ill patients. “Hospitals here are not equipped to provide long-term care for comatose and if there are exceptions, the costs involved are enormous. As the chances of recovery are rare, hospitals advise that the comatose should be treated at home, but home can never provide the hygienic conditions available in expensive hospitals,” he said.
Apart from accidents, stroke, meningitis, encephalitis, brain tumour and high blood pressure have pushed many people to this condition.
Jacob said the kin of a patient are more affected by the physical and mental challenges popped up by the presence of a terminally ill at home than the money they have to spend to keep their beloved ones alive.
Said Soumya Nair, the Managing Trustee of advantAGE, “It takes nine to ten hours of daily peg-feeding and three hours of therapy to achieve optimal progress in the recovery. Taking care of a permanently bed-ridden patient is a challenge.” She added that interventions like tracheostomy, gastrotomy and catheterisation are common and need to be handled by experienced doctors. Soumya said that initial enthusiasm of a family to serve the patient dies down quickly.
Members of the family would be lost in the daily hum-drum as they cannot put a stop to their life and most importantly they have to earn for their daily bread and butter. She informed that in advantAGE a team of therapists, specially trained doctors and nurses and social workers together help patients regain lost skills and learn to live independently.
“AdvantAGE provides complete care to a patient at a nominal cost of `15,000 per month. A minimum of `48,000 to `50,000 per month was needed to provide the same facilities at home, apart from the investment in apparatus and the daily trauma they undergo by seeing the patient who seems to make no progress,” explained Soumya.
When asked whether the government has come forward to help their organisation, Jacob narrated the case of a recently admitted patient.
“We admitted Thomas (name changed), a US citizen to the care home a month ago and have been taking care of him free of cost. I intimated this to the US embassy, the local police station and an IPS officer, asking them to provide details of the person.
I have also sent the photocopies of the patient’s passport and visa but even after two weeks, there is no response,” said Jacob adding, “We do not expect any grant from the government.
Information about the person would suffice.”