Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dying in Hospitals: Family Experiences (Research, Video 3:34)

Many people still believe that most people die at home. That’s a comforting thought for them knowing that loved ones are more in control of matters such as who comes and goes, when and why they do that. Most of all, they appreciate being able to have more emphasis on non-medical dying needs. But the reality is that most people die in hospitals and nursing homes. While recent literature has focused more on the needs of caregivers in the home setting, it is important to recognize needs of family members caring for patients with advanced illness where they serve as the key intermediaries and decision makers in inpatient settings such as hospitals.

Focus groups consisting of dying hospital patients' family members can help identify the quality of their experiences. Groups involved in this research had participants aged 46-83, all female, mostly Caucasian and African American. The results of four such groups followed by interviews revealed the following eight domains about the quality of family experiences of dying hospital patients:

1.    Life completion
2.    Symptom impact
3.    Decision making
4.    Preparation for crisis and death
5.    Relationship with healthcare providers
6.    Affirmation of the whole person
7.    Post-death care
8.    Supportive services

Findings suggest the importance of good communications and relationships in meeting the clinical needs of family members. The development of more methods to assist families with the tasks involved with life completion, being prepared for a crisis and imminent death, and post-death care are needed.

Dr. Ira Byock, palliative care physician and chief medical officer of the Providence Institute for Human Caring believes that the fundamental nature of dying is not medical. It's personal. Dying cannot be encompassed only by a set of medical problems and a set of diagnosis and treatments. In this video, he explains his perspective on dying in a hospital.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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