As a friend or family member of a hospice patient, you may have spent considerable amounts of time in a hospital setting. You’ve seen doctors and nurses rushing through sterile hallways and heard heart monitors beeping and respirators whirring.
In the midst of this often chaotic setting, the patient’s wishes can sometimes become secondary to the task of keeping them alive. We tend to think of death as a medical failure, choosing to pursue painful and traumatic life-extending medical procedures.
Palliative care, however, is not about longevity. To this end, hospice professionals must recognize the importance of listening to the patient and developing a patient-focused care plan. Read on to learn more about this model of care and how it can help improve the patient’s end of life experience.
Hospice Treatment Vs. Standard Medical Care
Physicians sometimes employ drastic lifesaving measures to help their patients stay alive. Death is often an undesirable outcome to treatment, even though it’s a natural part of the life cycle, and most doctors experience a sense of loss when a patient dies.
Doctors must change their mindset when treating terminal patients, who need a different style of care than other patients. They require medical professionals who are attentive to more than just their physical needs. Hospice care providers learn to be more holistic, considering the patient’s quality as well as quantity of life, when providing palliative care.
To provide this level of care, doctors need patients who will voice their wants and concerns openly. This is sometimes challenging for people who may be accustomed to relying on the expertise of their physicians, but for hospice patients and their loved ones, it’s necessary.
Empower Patients and Families to Speak Up
Patient focused care encourages patients and families to speak up and make their wishes known. You can take several steps to ensure your loved one understands their diagnosis and can voice their opinion on their medical care.
Remember your doctor is there to help you, so don’t be afraid to stop them and ask questions about the diagnosis. Make sure you understand what your options are and voice your wishes clearly.
An end-of-life care plan can help your loved ones make treatment decisions for you if you’re not able to do so. Ask yourself how much treatment you want to go through and what, if any, life support measures you’d like. Making these decisions early and putting them in writing will ease some of your family’s stress should you be incapacitated later on.
As important as the physical aspects of your diagnosis is your emotional and spiritual well-being. You are more than your body, and some studies have suggested spiritual engagement can help patients cope with their diagnosis. While you may not want to involve your physician directly in your spiritual care, you and your loved ones may consult a chaplain or spiritual advisor.
Whether you decide to take any or all of these steps, voicing your concerns and desires with your medical team can help you make sure your treatment plan is focused on you.
Focus on the Patient’s Desires and Expectations
When the patient and their family take a more active role in deciding the kind and extent of care they’ll receive, medical professionals can let go of their own ingrained assumptions about patient care. This can allow doctors to shift their focus to the patient’s quality of life.
Most people don’t want to spend their last moments in the hospital ICU hooked up to various machines and surrounded by strangers, yet this is the case for some terminally ill patients. As hospice professionals turn toward a patient-focused care model, this should become increasingly rare. Patients will dictate how they approach the end of life, and physicians will formulate their treatment plan according to the patient’s goals.
Physicians may be able to judge the success of their hospice treatment plan not by the extreme measures they took to keep their patient alive, but by the moments their patient was able to share with their loved ones.
How Kindful Hospice Can Help You
If you or your loved one would like to learn more about how to make your wishes known to your healthcare providers, Kindful Hospice can help. We are committed to helping you or your loved one feel seen and heard when making crucial end of life decisions.
We have doctors and nurses dedicated to helping you and your loved one craft a care plan that will fit your needs and desires. Additionally, our chaplains are ready to provide guidance and counseling to help you and your family learn and understand the end of life wishes of your loved one.