Compassionate Caring: Dr Rajam Iyer’s Opinion

“We need responsible, compassionate doctors who can hand hold them….keep the human being comfortable.” 

Apart from being a doctor where she engages with caregivers, Dr Rajam Iyer has also been a caregiver to her own parents. While being a caregiver to her parents, watching them interact with doctors, she realized how a doctor can change the life of a patient.  A doctor’s language, tone or body posture can make the patient/caregiver feel less burdened with their situation. She realized that in spite of being a doctor herself, it was a tough emotional journey being a caregiver to her father, so for a person from a non medical background the challenges can be harder. Caregivers go through a gamut of unaddressed issues that include physical, emotional and financial aspects.

According to Dr Rajam, Medical schools do not teach emotional connect, and  it can be tough for doctors to deal with another person’s stress as well, so most often patients are looked at from a disease perspective and how it needs to be treated rather than being person-centered.  Fearful of situations taking time, doctors refrain from connecting to the patient, but she suggests framing questions properly so that the patient/caregiver can open up and make it easier for both the doctor, the patient and the family to decide on a treatment.  These situations can lead to unnecessary procedures or treatments as well.

In India people go below the poverty line caring for a loved one who did not require treatment in the first place. Financial , emotional, physical support is required for patients/caregivers  so we need responsible, compassionate doctors who can guide them and keep the patient as comfortable as possible, while addressing health-related suffering to the patient and their caregivers.

“We need to educate both the people(community) as well as doctors need to be trained in palliative medicine so we produce a more compassionate lot”

It is also important for patients to educate themselves to know their rights or refuse treatments if not required. While people are living longer but not necessarily better. It is time to integrate curative and palliative care when treatment is no longer required and make the system a more person centered care which can lead to a better quality of life.

If you can identify with this story, please share it with others who care for someone and help them share too. The feeling of understanding, not being alone and access to support is what keeps caregivers going.  
As a healthcare professional, sharing your opinion helps reflect and influence the healthcare system at large. You can help bring back care into healthcare for the patients, fellow professionals and the family caregivers. Our experiences and hopes can benefit others – to know that the challenges are the same, learn new ways to cope and care… they aren’t alone but part of a team. 
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One thought on “Compassionate Caring: Dr Rajam Iyer’s Opinion

  1. It was wonderful to hear Dr Rajam speak !
    What a caregiver goes through – only a caregiver will know !
    I especially liked her emphasis on (1) palliative care and (2) an emotional connect with the patient.
    At this point of time my mother (87) has a wonderful doctor (Dr Mahesh of Ubiqare) who comes to meet her once every few weeks. She looks forward to meeting him as he is very gentle and patient and continues to re-assure her that her condition (after stroke) is improving gradually.
    I am sure this discussion with Dr Rajam will be useful to others who are looking after family members. I will share this.
    Thanks for this

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