Friday, February 6, 2015

Postive Understanding Of Palliative Care

A survey was made among 1500 citizens on their knowledge of hospice and palliative care, the results showed that only 39.5 percent were familiar with the hospice movement. An essay in the Catholic Times by a nurse in a Catholic University hospice ward gives us her thoughts on the subject of palliative care. 

She has been a nurse for  thirty years, and only a few years before did she become acquainted with the movement; if this is true of a nurse, she says, how much more so for others. She has worked in all the different wards of a hospital, and remembers the efforts she made to solve the problems the sick faced, and found great satisfaction and was filled with confidence in the work.

Assigned to the palliative care ward this all changed. In the beginning she felt helpless in dealing with the terminally ill cancer patients. She felt her limitations and great uncomfortableness in working in the ward. But with the passage of time she began to feel a numbness to her surroundings and felt guilty in being so callous, and wanted to get back to the thoughts  she has when she  first  became a nurse. This coldness appeared unconsciously, she feels, in defense of seeing so many who were dying,  something she did not experience in the other wards of the hospital.

One of her misgivings, at present, is not being able to make the last moments of the dying into memorable events for the families and the terminally sick. As she mentions there are many, even among the medical personnel, who feel  those in hospice are only there awaiting for death. It is true that they are there because death is imminent, but  we can't say we can't do anything. We can search for what makes them happy, and make the last years of earthly life memorable for the dying and their families.

We are all preparing to die. Hospice workers are trying to make this bereavement into something that will leave beautiful memories behind. Efforts are made to  make the time before death as painless and profitable as possible, and to minimize the sadness attendant on the death of a love one.

Isn't this the aim of palliative care? She concludes her essay with  her desire to be of more service to those dying and their families. She feels like an important  fellow traveler with the sick person and the family member, and to serve as the outstretched hand of an angel.  

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