I think therefore I am? – What’s in a word?

Photo by Alexander Hanssen on Unsplash

Today I was asked the difference between the terms Palliative Care and End of Life Care. End-of-life care is for the last days of life and can be considered the final kind of palliative care that people will receive. Whereas palliative care is for people in their last 12 months of life or possibly longer. A person may have palliative care needs at any time during this period. They might have symptom control issues needing assistance. Common physical issues are pain, nausea, breathlessness, and agitation but non-physical issues can cause just as much if not more morbidity.

Using the lens of Aotearoa New Zealand’s Te Whare Tapa Wha as well as Tinana/Physical we look at Hinengaro/Emotional, Wairua/Spiritual, and Whanau/Familial/Social. People may be suffering from problems on the non-physical sides of the house.

What is palliative care? Care is provided to patients in order to decrease suffering. To calm down symptoms affecting the whole person be they physical or non-physical. It is hard to divide people up into the four sides of the house as everything is interlinked within the same person. You can’t separate the mind from the body from the spirit from the community.

Fear of the unknown is what can occur when it comes to Hospice. People may have a certain idea of what hospice is. It might be a frightening thought for them, one they hope they will never have need of. Death is inevitable and reminds us that it will come to us no matter what station in life we have held in the past. What we do in the here and now is what is most important. Will there be a tomorrow at all? We don’t have all of the answers at all.

People in the communities we serve don’t know us well. Fear of the unknown is a real thing, that hampers access to care. How to break those through the fear barrier? Knowledge is power, empowerment to make your own decisions. To do what is right for you and your loved ones. While you are still well enough to make decisions we will check with you about what you would want to happen or not want to happen to yourself.

Palace of Care – Welcome to Hospice – Part 1

Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

When the hospice nurse had suggested an admission into hospice she really had to think about it. Did this mean that she was about to die? Was that why she had suggested I go in, because they thought that I was about to die? They denied it, and said that they wanted me to go in to help control my breathing and distress. I asked my family and they were scared as well, but knew that I needed help. We decided to give them a go, but man we were still nervous about it.

Turns out we didn’t have to worry, the people were friendly and nothing seemed too difficult. The doctors and nurses started working on my breathlessness, and by the next morning I started to feel better. I met a number of the team members before I headed home a few days later. We had been worried that when you’re admitted into hospice that there is only one way out, being wheeled out by the undertaker. When it was time for me to go home, I walked out the front door.

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