end of life care

How Caregivers Can Discuss End of Life Care with Patients

If you own a nursing facility, it can be quite a challenge to deal with all the responsibilities to ensure your residents are getting the best care possible. Other than having Nursing Home Insurance to keep everyone protected, you also need to think about those who are already spending their last days.

End-of-life care in any facility is different from regular nursing care. When patients are in the later stages of their health, they usually receive treatment for pain management rather than improving or extending their quality of life. As treatment progresses, it’s necessary to discuss end-of-life issues with the patient and their family.

With that said, here are ways to begin those conversations, as well as tips to make end-of-life care in a facility more manageable for both the patient and their loved ones:

  1. Understand the Case of Your Patient

Before starting the conversation for end-of-life care, it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of the patient’s case. Learning what their illness is, how long they’ve been suffering, and what treatments have already been used will help you grasp how to approach the discussion.

Different patients have different values and beliefs, so it’s essential to understand their backgrounds as well. For example, is religion an important part of how this patient views life and death? Has the thought of death ever come up? If so, how did they react to it? All of these questions should be answered before having a serious conversation about end-of-life care with the patient.

  1. Be Clear and Sincere

To have a productive conversation, you should be straightforward yet careful in your approach. Steer clear of insensitive comments such as, “you don’t have much time left” or “you may die soon.” These statements are likely to cause the patient stress and can lead to a more difficult discussion.

Instead, place your focus on the current state of their health. Explain that you are there to support them both emotionally and physically during this time of care. You will be able to help them choose the options available to keep them comfortable until their time comes.

Not only is being sincere important, but it’s also necessary to be patient. No matter how hard you try, not everyone will react the same way. For some patients and their loved ones, the idea of death is accepted, while some might strongly react and try to push away the topic. Regardless of how they respond, stay supportive.

  1. Start with the Family First

Family members are usually the ones who will be more willing to speak with you about end-of-life care because they know their loved one best. If you can approach them first about these serious topics, then that could put you in a better position to talk with the patient.

When approaching family members, act as an understanding listener. Let them discuss their concerns and worries until they’ve reached their comfort zone before fully explaining end-of-life care and how it works.

  1. Talk with the Patient

There is no right or wrong way to approach a discussion about death. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but giving the patient some space and time will allow them to feel more comfortable with the idea.

When starting the serious talk, come from a place of care and concern instead of coming across as strait-laced and professional. In this way, the patient will feel more comfortable with you as a person rather than an authority figure.

To ease into the conversation, start by explaining end-of-life care and how it will help them live comfortably until their time comes.

5. Let Them Know What’s in Store for Them

End-of-life care services are made to keep the patient comfortable during their final days. The process involves pain management (Palliative care), physical, mental and emotional support, and spiritual care.

Using the expertise of medical practitioners, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, patients will be given treatment to ease their suffering. Talking with the patient about what’s in store for them when they opt for end-of-life care can help them gain a sense of clarity and understanding of their options.

6. Acknowledge Any Final Wishes

The support you provide throughout these difficult times goes beyond just giving treatments or medication. You are there to make sure your patient feels loved and cared for through thick and thin, even after death has taken place.

Each person is different and has their own set of final wishes. For example, some may wish to donate their organs, some might want a funeral service, while others prefer to be buried at sea.

It’s vital to ask the patient about their preferences so that you can plan ahead. Although it’s impossible to know how much time they have left, letting them know that these wishes are honored and acknowledged is a way of letting them know they’re loved.

After all is said and done, be there for them as a caregiver or friend. Being there for them emotionally and physically will make the transition much easier.

About Midwest Insurance Group

Midwest Insurance Group is a risk retention group developed by Caitlin Morgan Insurance Services in response to the unique needs of the healthcare industry, particularly that of senior living facilities. With rising premium costs and difficulties in obtaining coverage from the traditional professional and general liability insurance market, Midwest Insurance Group represents a viable, long-term insurance alternative for the senior living sector, giving members complete control over costs and claims management. Midwest Insurance Group is reinsured with Lloyd’s of London, and A rated by Demotech.

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