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However, they are often emotionally isolated and are unable to determine whether or not they are loved by their family members or whether they will be missed after passing on. This often happens because the family members are not directly involved in providing hospice care to their patients. Hospice care can be a great way of strengthening the connection between the terminally ill patient and their loved ones and family members. It is thus essential for hospice care professionals to support interactions between patients and their family members for the latter to make extra efforts to make them feel that they are loved.
Conventional medical care institutions often fail to provide adequate care to terminally ill patients because professionals at these institutions do not understand the crucial part that family members play in the last moments of the terminally ill patient. This is part of the case that is put forward by Armstrong-Dailey (76)
that "many families have surprised professionals with their strength, insight, and ability to provide care in the face of tragedy." Families reinforce the emotional connection between caregivers and patients and enable the latter to acknowledge that death is less frightening when knowing that they are loved and appreciated.
Sadness, depression and anger are very common in terminally ill patients which is another reason why it is important for hospice care professionals to ensure that family members are involved in the hospice care process. This is with regard to the attitude the terminally ill patients may have toward their family. The patient may be angry at their family, at God, or at health care professionals for failing to do all they can to prevent or cure the illness or for failing to alleviate their pain and suffering. "Sometimes adults, with the best of intentions, misdirect their attention when they believe there is a 'right' way to help, or they search for the 'correct' procedure or technique" Armstrong-Dailey 169.
Caregivers and family members thus have to acknowledge that there is no standard care they can provide patients with. The fact that each individual is unique means that a personalized attitude needs to be employed in the case of each patient. The caregivers thus need to engage the family in order to understand the patient uniquely thus provide appropriate care.
There is no place for criticism of patients in hospice care. Therefore both hospice care professionals and family members have to understand that openness is crucial and family members should not show a judgmental attitude. The best illustration of this is in devising coping mechanisms for patient. Coping is one of the most efficient techniques one can possibly consider for hospice care. The caregivers thus need to provide the patient with sufficient knowledge for them to adopt the appropriate coping strategies which may be difficult to adopt and develop Thayyil and Cherumanalil 216.
Coping strategies need to be tailored for the patient since when the wrong strategy is adopted, it will fail terribly. Furthermore, if the family members have a judgmental attitude toward the patient, they will not be able to cope thus leading to failure.
Extra-effort required from the caregivers
In order to provide appropriate and timely hospice care to patients, it is integral that caregivers put in extra effort in order to achieve success. The organizational culture of the hospice care institution must also support caregivers to enable them provide appropriate care. Taking into account that institutions dedicated to providing hospice care have to have professionals who are well acquainted with every aspect of hospice care and the patient, there is a need for the caregivers to be supported so that they are able to easily adapt when they are required to do so. Emotional stress in terminally ill patients is usually extremely high and this means that caregivers have to anticipate the emotional needs of the patient and to be able to work around these to make the patient feel better about him or herself. This can only be a success for the caregiver when they address the exact emotional issues that patient is dealing with. The extra effort that is depicted here is that caregivers need to understand the patient and their needs in order to succeed in making it possible for these patients to feel that pain and suffering does not necessarily have to dominate their last phase of life.
Spirituality, caregivers also need to put in extra effort to make a difference between a terminally ill patient who feels that life is worthless as long as death is rapidly approaching and a the patient who wants to live life to the fullest as he or she realizes that they are terminally ill. The caregiver thus also needs to understand the spiritual pain and suffering of the patient in addition to physical and emotional pain. The caregiver can address this by providing the patient with the opportunity to concentrate on the spiritual aspect of life and to attempt to rediscover him or herself. Instead of feeling lost, the terminally ill patient will thus finally realize who they are and appreciate the important goals that they have achieved in their lives.
Hospice care is an important concept in the contemporary society. It is aimed at helping terminally ill patients to experience peace, dignity and comfort during their last days. This is achieved by taking care of their emotional, physical, spiritual and psychological pain and suffering through five main strategies. These strategies are counseling, visualization, medication, relaxation and cognitive therapies. Improvement of quality of life seems to be the most important concept and target for caregivers but it is also important that family members are involved in the hospice care process. Family members can provide support for caregivers as well as help the patients to discover their personal identities, reconnect with their close-ones, or to simply be able to gain a more complex understanding of death. All these will help to improve the patient's quality of life and to reduce pain and suffering thus providing them with peace, dignity and comfort in their last stages of life.
Armstrong-Dailey, Ann. Hospice Care for Children. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.
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Smith, Curtis E. A Hospice Guide Book: Hospice Care: A Wise Choice Providing Quality Comfort Care through the End of Life's Journey. Bloomington, in: Inspiring Voices, 2012. Print.
Thayyil, Jayakrishnan, and Jeeja Cherumanalil. "Assessment of Status of Patients Receiving Palliative Home Care and Services Provided in a Rural Area-Kerala, India." Indian Journal of Palliative Care 18.3 (2012): 213-18. Print.
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