Talking with Patients
Talking with the patient and/or caregiver is essential to the end of life discussion and honoring their wishes. A patient may accept hospice but the family may be unprepared and encourage the continuation of medications and treatments. Conversely, the family may be supportive of hospice care, but the individual wishes to continue all efforts to prolong life even when the burdens outweigh the benefits.
When families find themselves in such a crisis, the person to whom they look for advice and assurance is the physician. Because of this, physicians must be comfortable being an important active part of that end-of-life journey.
Hospice is a continuation of care. As a healthcare professional, you never have to say, “There is nothing else I can do for you;” instead, you offer yet another resource by saying, “The next thing I can do for you is to offer you the care and services of hospice.” Hospice is a palliative, or non-curative, medical option of care for those with an end-stage or terminal condition. Hospice may help allay fears of dying along with the uncontrolled pain and symptoms of the disease process.
Hospice team members will make every effort to satisfactorily assess an individual’s & family’s understanding of the disease, process, and prognosis. This assessment facilitates education and a clear understanding so informed decisions may be made. The conversation also establishes “wishes” and clarifies expectations.