OBJECTIVES: Faith-based organisations (FBOs) in India provide health services particularly to marginalised communities . We studied their preparedness and delivery of palliative care during COVID-19 as part of a mixed-method study . We present the results of an online questionnaire .
METHODS: All FBOs providing palliative care in India were invited to complete an online questionnaire . Descriptive analysis was undertaken .
RESULTS: Response rate was 46/64 (72 %); 44 provided palliative care; 30/44 (68 %) were in rural or semiurban areas with 10-2700 beds . Fifty-two per cent (23/44) had dedicated palliative care teams and 30/44 (68 %) provided it as part of general services; 17/44 (39 %) provided both . 29/44 (66 %) provided palliative care for cancer patients; 17/44 (34 %) reported that this was more than half their workload.The pandemic led to reduced clinical work: hospital 36/44 (82 %) and community 40/44 (91 %); with reduction in hospital income for 41/44 (93 %). 18/44 (44 %) were designated government COVID-19 centres; 11/40 (32 %) had admitted between 1 and 2230 COVID-19 patients.COVID-19 brought challenges : 14/44 (32 %) lacked personal protective equipment; 21/44 (48 %) had reduced hospital supplies and 19/44 (43 %) lacked key medications including morphine . 29/44 (66 %) reported reduction in palliative care work; 7/44 (16 %) had stopped altogether . Twenty-three per cent (10/44) reported redeployment of palliative care teams to other work . For those providing, palliative care 32/37 (86 %) was principally for non-COVID patients; 13/37 (35 %) cared for COVID-19 patients . Service adaptations included: teleconsultation, triaged home visits, medication delivery at home and food supply .
CONCLUSIONS: FBOs in India providing palliative care had continued to do so despite multiple challenges . Services were adapted to enable ongoing patient care . Further research is exploring the effects of COVID-19 in greater depth.