Providing End-Of-Life Care

Providing End-Of-Life Care

Providing care to a client with a terminal illness is one of the most challenging responsibilities a caregiver will ever have. Even the most compassionate caregivers can experience significant difficulties coping with the needs and realities of a client who is nearing the end of his or her life. Here are a few things that can help caregivers provide quality end-of-life care while appreciating the gravity of the circumstances.

Act as the client’s advocate.

Very often, medical practitioners fail to help patients cope with the realities of a terminal diagnosis – they may use inaccessible medical terminology that the patient cannot understand due to a lack of medical literacy, or because he/she isn’t in the right frame of mind to fully absorb the facts. A caregiver might therefore have to compassionately reiterate the details, or translate the language so that the patient and the patient’s family fully comprehend the situation and care program.

Be honest, but delicate.

The client may be in highly fragile emotional state, so it can be a challenge to execute the care strategies dispassionately. However, both the client and the client’s family deserve a standard of care that adheres to the established protocols. While it can be emotionally trying for the client and the client’s family to face the decisions surrounding end-of-life, it is sometimes up to the caregiver to gently encourage important discussions. Caregivers must do their best to be sensitive to the painful circumstances while not allowing their natural sentiment to interfere with the duties that must be performed.

Appreciate the different forms of grief.

While there are five classic stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance – they won’t necessarily fall into a particular order, and all of them might be accompanied by fear. A caregiver must understand how to negotiate these difficult stages, and act as a guide to the client and family when necessary.

Recognize different cultural responses to end-of-life.

Different cultures handle end-of-life decisions in markedly dissimilar ways. It is up to the caregiver to appreciate the fact that the client and family may approach the realities of palliative care in a way that the caregiver finds alien. This might manifest itself in failing to discuss or acknowledge the prognosis at all. The caregiver must therefore navigate and validate the emotions, while still performing necessary duties.

Use experience and judgement.

Although caregivers must adhere to general standards and practices to the very best of their abilities, there may be certain circumstances where the client’s and family’s wishes diverge from accepted protocol. Be aware that stress and intense emotions don’t necessarily help people make the best decisions, and try to be sensitive to the client’s state of mind.

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