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I am quoting this piece because of the subject, though the reported study does not seem to have anything novel in it.  The hospice movement has long believed that it is providing holistic end-of-life care, providing not just physical comfort but psychosocial and spiritual comfort as well.  There is a quote floating around that “people die as they lived.”  This means our lives shape how we approach death when it comes to meet us.  We are the composite of experiences and emotions.  Hence, the need for the full model of care that Hospice provides.

Everyone has to die one day, yet often the issue of death and dying still remains a taboo, despite the fact that palliative care is a major public health issue. An international study in this week’s PLoS Medicine shows that those working in palliative care not only have to provide fundamental needs that are complex and sophisticated, they also need to involve psychological, physical, social and spiritual support for the dying.

Researchers from Argentina, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland have assessed health workers care-giving activities other than providing medicines in the last days and hours of life for patients with cancer in palliative care settings. They observed that the majority of activities in caring for a dying individual involved bodily contact, like attending to diverse bodily needs in a comforting and dignified way.

Health workers also stated that other important aspects of their work consisted of closely communicating with the dying and their family whilst creating an attractive, safe and comforting environment, stating that just being present when a person is close to death is also very important.

The researchers found several areas in need of further investigation, for instance, new methods of improving a dying person’s sensory and general environment. They also recommend developing a greater level of detail, such as improved terminology for end-of-life care would enrich appreciation of all the facets and complexities in caring for people during their last days of life and would also be of benefit for clinical practice, teaching and research.

They state:

“In these data, an underlying feature of the pattern of palliative care practice appears to be an effort to provide personalized and compassionate end-of-life care by maintaining and supporting links with the individual’s everyday life. This adaptation is accomplished by using knowledge about and respect for the person as an individual with a life history lived in a particular context, that is the person is not viewed only as a dying patient.”

Written by Petra Rattue
Copyright: Medical News Today