Arunima Hospice

This medical facility at Behala, Kolkata has established itself as an accredited hospice taking care of the terminally ill, undiagnosed and untreated people of rural Bengal The facility is dedicated to taking care of people and specially children affected and infected with HIV/AIDS. Arunima was initially started with financial support from SAPCS (State AIDS Prevention and Control Society).  Later on CBCI (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India) supported the project by providing resources for running 10 beds.  The MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) also came forward to support 15 beds.  Presently the hospice accommodates an IPD (Indoor Patients Department) of around 20 beds. 

Apart from providing healthcare regular education and awareness programmes are organised keeping in mind gender, age, culture and life skill of the beneficiaries.  These programmes provide information on services like Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) and Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART).  The employees are encouraged to actively participate in courses, workshops, conferences, seminars and consultative meetings organised by other institutions. 

Arunima Hospice presently provides:

  • Medical services to 234 beneficiaries.
  • Linkage for pathological tests with Government and Non Government facilities.
  • Post natal care for the PLHAs (People Living with HIV/ AIDS) mothers.
  • Life skill education programme for the adolescents

A much detailed overview

Arunima Hospice came into being in October 2006, fulfilling a much cherished dream in the diocese of Calcutta. It aims at providing free medical facilities, supplementary nutrition and residential care to the people suffering from HIV/AIDS. Hospice also works to prevent further spread of the disease by generating awareness amongst the working classes especially those below poverty line. Arunima began with minimum amenities by its very limited fund. With the efficient guidance of WBSAP&CS it presently accommodates more than twenty HIV patients. The patients here not only received proper treatment and free medications, but also dietary food including rations for their daily survival.

As a care giving institution for the PLHA’s in West Bengal, Arunima has learnt the hard truth of the life of the PLHAS. In her attempt to realize what it believes, a major part of her engagement had been in rehabilitation efforts which imply nothing less than reshaping old relationships and fostering nurturing a relationship based on a dignified, egalitarian and stigma free approach. Care and support to the PLHAs is the core of the oeuvre to bridge broken relationship, rebuild them on a newer basis and develop and nurture new relationship among otherwise unknown , unconnected people and chart out the path for a new beginning. This is lesson Arunima has learned in her short journey and remains committed for the same in the foreseeable future.

Mission & Vision

Arunima Hospice envisaged that all human beings should be valued and treated with dignity, love and respect. The terminally ill should have the right to retain control and share fully in the decision concerning their life and what is appropriate for them.

Objectives

  • To render adequate residential and day care support to the PLWHAS in Kolkata.
  • To render an empathetic service to the PLWHAS.
  • To help the PLWHAS to overcome their Psychological Trauma.
  • To provide medical Care and support to the PLWHAS.
  • To organise awareness programme on HIV/AIDS.
  • To develop network with Tropical School, Medical College and BNP+.

Activities of Arunima Hospice

Opportunistic Infection (OI) Management & Palliative Care: Treatment of OI and monitoring the general health along with managing medical exigencies and offering temporary shelter to the extremely needy forms the core of the activity.
 
Death Management & Grief Counseling: We stay by the side of the patient till his/her final moments and with their families even after death.

Mainstreaming Programmes

  • Network with CBOs, FBOs, NGO’s: Arunima endeavors to network with government or non-government in a concerted manner. It also works along with Centre of Exellence for HIV/AIDS Treatment (School of Tropical Medicine), Regional Pediatric ART Centre, Medical College, State Hospital, Divisional Hospital and Public Health centre.
  • Children Support Group: Support group is the forum for PLWHA to share experiences of physical and social sufferings. This is the appropriate platform from which a fight against myths, misconceptions, discrimination and violation of human right can be effectively launched. Drug adherence counseling and behavior change counseling (BCC) is taken up especially for the adolescence.
  • Psycho-Social Support & legal support: Every patient registered at the Hospice in counseled. A follow-up counseling is done to find out the despair and depression among the patients. Legal aid is provided on issues related to Human Rights Violation of the PLHA. We work through close networking with specialized organization such as Human Rights Law Network etc.
  • Referral & Linkages: The Hospice has got a regularized referral system in place. From various specialties in medicine to private investigation centres, Arunima has been able to build good rapport through its medical consultants outreach workers.

Group Counseling and Advocacy

Arunima also runs group counseling at the institutional and peripheral level. The aim is to fight ostracism, inculcate a sense of belonging and ultimately unleash group activities which may be purely social or even income generating. Weekly three group counseling session has been conducted by the counselor in regular basis.

  • Home Base Care (HBC) & Out Reach Support: This project has taken an initiative to keep the patients in their homely atmosphere which has found great success. The drug adherence level has increased among the clients, acceptance of PLHA’s in the local area developed and family members have become empathetic to the clients. Myths and misconception gradually eradicated through Home visit and regular intervention by out reach worker.
  • Spiritual Care & Support: The fear of death some times develops frustration and depression, continuous anxiety and discomfort in the life of PLHAs. Arunima has regular courses of spiritual care & support activity. The local church priest’s regularly visits the Hospice and offers a spiritual component of healing.
  • Nutrition Intervention:  Arunima gets clients mostly from Stage III and IV. Due to malnourishment, recurring infection gradually invites other fatal diseases like Tuberculosis. More over it has been studied that a large number of clients lose their professions due to their ill-health. Thus a rotational three months ration support has given to the clients every month to supplement their nutrition.
  • Home for Orphan & Vulnerable-infected and affected Children living with HIV/AIDS:  Arunima has lost more than 50 clients leaving their children orphans. The family members are not interested to keep these children due to social stigma and fear about the disease. There are very few centres in West Bengal to rehabilitate such children. All such centres have no vacancies. In this context, Arunima started the OVC Programme for the infected and affected children. The programme offers the children shelter, free education, vocational training etc. Presently 20 children and adolescents benefit through this programme.

Community Intervention Programme (CIP)

Arunima also has community intervention programme at Nodhakhali, a far remote village in South 24 Parganas, West Bengal. The area is inhabited by the migrant labourers amongst which are Jari worker who migrate to Mumbai for better job opportunities. This cross migration causes new infection of HIV/AIDS. The interesting part is that the areas also very close to CSW area. Thus Arunima took an initiative for CIP through an outdoor general Homeopathic Clinic, eye checkup camp, the objective of this intervention is to develop confidence and start an Intervention for Prevention campaign for HIV/AIDS. This programme is currently for 150 families.

School Awareness Programme

Arunima strives to develop a scientific attitude towards the problem and sensitize the society towards the plight of the PLWHA. Presently Arunima is engaged with 10 Govt. schools for student sensitization programme. More than five hundred students have received “Peer educators” training on HIV/AIDs.

Income Generation Programme

  • Self Help Group Programme (SHG): SHG is the activity aimed at not only making some earning to ensure drug adherence of the PLWHA but at rebuilding the family economy that tends to collapse. Presently 10 women are involved in SHG
  • Skill Development Programme : Looking towards the losing of old vocation and profession of the beneficiaries Arunima started Vocational Training for the beneficiaries The centre  is offering training on different Jute work, mobile bag making, show piece making, hand made eco friendly paper bag, envelop making, knitting ,jam & jelly making and sewing as a part of skill development. Presently 15 beneficiaries are being benefited by this programme.

Capacity Building Activities

  • Staff & Beneficiaries Capacity Building Activities(CBA): Arunima considers CBA as the single most confidence building programme for the PLWHA. As the disease renders the PLWHA unable to pursuit old vocations and optimal new one becomes imperative for sustaining her/him and the family, several workshop orientations, training has been conducted by Arunima throughout the year. Within this time period, 150 beneficiaries have received different training and orientation. All the staff members are also well equipped due to this activity.

Study Documentation & Publication:

Arunima conducts study on various issues related to problems of the PLHAs and their solution. Extensive documentation on medical treatment, counseling, patient’s satisfaction and community participations are being carried out from the beginning.

The Journey and Limitation:

Arunima has dedicated well equipped staff community. It is inclusive in nature, irrespective of caste, creed and colour. The staffs are appointed to foster the mission of God. The people living with HIV/AIDs are also appointed as staff. Arunima started its journey with a call to promote the servanthood ministry in the Diocese of Calcutta. Arunima believes that God has called every one who are engaged in this ministry to serve the least bothered and socially discriminated people. The journey of Arunima is a belongingness to God, thus every effort of Arunima bear its fruits.

Arunima still have financial constrain to run all the project components but continuing all the activities with firm faith that “HE” will provide. Arunima only receives funds for treatment and care from her partners. Some of the significant areas of the project still looking for support are adequate infrastructure for its in patient and out patient department. The infrastructural development will enhance quality of the care and treatment for the clients. The Home for OVC (Orphan and Vulnerable infected and affected children living with HIV/AIDS) still have financial constrain. The Home Based Care activities can play a significant role to improve the quality of life of PLHA’s. The staff’s exposure to global family may give an ample opportunity to update their knowledge and skill in Hospice care.

We sincerely acknowledge the dynamic role of our Chairman the Rt. Revd. Ashoke Biswas, who is the source of inspiration for us all. In his able guidance the first hospice for people living with HIV/AIDS in Kolkata is progressing well. Arunima is accredited as “A” graded centre in West Bengal, We firmly believe that our sincere effort will make the difference in the field of care and support to the PLHAS.

  • Presently 1500 PLHAs is enrolled with Arunima and 500 plha family are being benefited under Treatment ,care and support progranne.
  • Presently Arunima dealing with 1500 PLHAs in Kolkata and it adjacent District.
  • Arunima also cater the need of treatment and care to the clients of the neighbouring State of India, a large number of PLHA’s coming from the far remote village in west Bengal
  • Drug adherence counseling and behavior change counseling (BCC) is taken up especially for the adolescence.
Arunima has formed  two support group with in its catchments area where 25 people are involved to address the issues related to HIV/AIDs and activity supporting for the development of quality life of PLHAs.