Muscat: As Maggie Jeans watched her husband slowly pass away, she thought long and hard about the battle she had fought to have him die at home, surrounded by his loved ones and in his own bed.
At that moment, Maggie said, she made her husband a promise: that she would fight for end of life care at home in Oman to make sure nobody else has to.
Oman has a lack of proper palliative care, said Jeans, an OBE, and she is on a mission to fix it.
Jeans wants funding to provide better palliative care in the country, and she has her own reasons for doing so.
Opening her heart to the Times of Oman, Jeans spoke about her husband’s final days and the realisation that proper care for the dying is something Oman’s health system lacks.
The 63-year-old, whose husband Dr. WD Jeans, a former Professor of Radiology at the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) died in November last year, has promised to campaign for improved palliative care services in the Sultanate.
Palliative care is a multidisciplinary approach to specialised medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, physical stress, and mental stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis.
Jeans said, “The goal of such therapy is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care can be provided across multiple settings including in hospitals, in the patient’s home, as part of community palliative care programmes, and in skilled nursing facilities.”
“My husband, Dr. W D Jeans, former Professor of Radiology at SQU, died on November 2 last year. He died peacefully at home, which was his wish and with the support of our former medical colleagues from SQU. Without their support this would not have been possible.”
“There is an absence of palliative care in Oman and, particularly, palliative care at home. As a result, hospital beds are occupied unnecessarily because patients can’t be discharged because families don’t have the support they need for home care.
“When my husband died I made a promise that this would be my new crusade and I’m pleased to report that there is very strong support in Muscat for this idea.”
Palliative Care was one of three main themes discussed at the recent 6th Oman Health Exhibition and Conference, which took place from September 20 to 22, at the Oman International Exhibition Centre in partnership with the Ministry of Health.
One of Oman’s biggest projects is the $1.5 billion world-class Medical City, a 5 million square-metre landmark, aimed at making Oman a destination for medical tourism.
Other projects in the pipeline that will contribute heavily to the health sector’s growth are the $200 million integrated multi-use health complex Al Madina International Hospital, five new, and 27 primary healthcare institutions. Palliative care and a hospice for the terminally ill should be a part of all this planned
“In Britain, we have specialised Macmillan Nurses and other forms of support in the community and I would like to see something similar available in Oman. The aim is to reduce suffering and follow patients’ wishes for end-of-life care.
“The first step is to raise awareness about the issues involved and increase understanding of the benefits of palliative care in the community. The Times of Oman has agreed to be a media partner in this project with a series of articles and updates, which will provide a forum for the community.”
Discussions have already begun in both the private and government sectors, which are vital in these challenging economic times.
“The next stage will be to fund a study to take the project forward. Anyone interested in contributing to this project in any way can contact the Times of Oman directly.”
She came to Oman from Bristol in 1990 with her husband and was recently awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire), in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List for services to Omani/British relations. Jeans has found this helpful in opening doors to promote the idea of palliative care.