This Bengaluru-based palliative care institution is treating nearly 25K advanced-stage cancer patients

Bengaluru-based Karunashraya offers palliative care for people with cancer through medical, emotional, spiritual, and social support, completely free of charge.

Cancer is a leading cause of death in India, with nearly three million suffering from the deadly disease. In fact, nearly 80 percent of cancer patients access medical help when there is no hope for a cure. 

Forty-nine-year-old Kishore Rao — at the prime of his corporate career — decided to espouse the cause for cancer awareness and care. He organised the first chapter of the Indian Cancer Society in Bengaluru to spread awareness of cancer and early detection.

In 1994, the Bangalore Hospice Trust (BHT) – Karunashraya was established, with equal trustees from the Indian Cancer Society (Karnataka Chapter) and the Rotary Club of Bangalore, Indiranagar.

Team at Karunashraya

Karunashraya provides compassionate palliative care to people with life-limiting illnesses and advanced-stage cancer patients through quality medical, emotional, spiritual, and social support, completely free of cost.

The hospice is offering in-patient care since 1999 and home care since 1995, tending to over 25,000 patients and helping their families by providing a supportive environment.

The care they need

In a conversation with SocialStory, Mathew George Chandy, CEO of Bangalore Hospice Trust – Karunashraya, says,

“We receive patients from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, with 65 percent of them below the poverty line. With the help of our generous donors and sponsors, we have been able to successfully provide adequate care for our patients.”

During admission, the organisation checks if the patient has a diagnosed case of advanced-stage cancer with the recent medical reports.

“At our hospice, we have 73-bed in-patient facilities, and on average, 65 beds are occupied daily. As per our data, 65 percent of the patients we receive are from lower economic backgrounds,” adds Chandy.

The Karunashraya facility at Bengaluru

A team of over 100 trained and competent doctors, counsellors, physiotherapists, nursing staff, and volunteers form an effective support group to help the patient and their family cope and deal with the situation. 

Karunashraya’s sprawling five-acre facility in Marathahalli is designed for patients to benefit from openness, water, and greenery, and therefore, become more receptive to the treatment offered at the hospice.

Moreover, a team of palliative care professionals are trained to deal with the psychological and spiritual needs of the patients. 

To increase coverage and respond effectively to the growing demand for home medical care services, Karunashraya has two link centres, and three home care teams travel throughout the city to provide its services.

The home care teams have multi-disciplinary nurses, a counsellor, and nursing aides who provide necessary palliative care, including counselling, and non-curative treatment to patients and their families, in and around Bengaluru. 

Moreover, Karunashraya is involved in yeomen service to the community, which involves training young girls from lower socio-economic families to become nursing aides, thus creating employment opportunities for them.

Touching the lives of many

According to the Karunashraya team, its services have impacted the lives of over 25,000 patients and their families so far.

“In the last two decades, through our home care services, we have been able to support 4,900 patients. Around 4,800 patients have departed peacefully and with less pain. The average number of patients using our home care services at any point in time is around 100,” says Chandy.

The institution is dependent on donations for funds, along with individual donors, committed donors, and CSR funding. Chandy says, over the last four years, its donations have increased significantly.

“One of the major channels we have added during this time is online donations through DanaMojo — an exclusive online payments solutions platform. Offering donors this option, along with the increasing awareness of our work, has helped Karunshraya grow in fulfilling its mission,” he adds.

Recently, it received Rs 130 crore funding from Subroto and Susmita Bagchi to set up a 110-bed palliative care centre in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. 

The Government of Odisha has allotted 20 acres of land to set up the project called the Bagchi – Karunashraya Palliative Care Centre for Palliative Care.

It is expected to take 18 months to complete, and in-patient care is expected to start in 2023. However, the centre will commence home care services from mid-October 2021. 

Going forward, Karunashraya aims to continue to improve the quality of life for advanced-stage cancer patients by continuing to provide dignity in death and helping the families overcome the difficult period.

Edited by Suman Singh


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