Page 15 - Giv'er Miramichi Magazine - Winter Issue 2022
P. 15

What’s in a Word?

        By Connie Doucet RN, CHPCN(C)

            The word palliative has taken a bad rap over the Go  home,  get  your  affairs  in  order  and  accept  the
        years and has struck fear in the hearts of many families inevitable; you are going to die.” We are all going to die.
        and to be honest, I don’t blame                                                    In  my  opinion,  if  the
        them.                                                                          person had been followed by
            In  most  instances,  the                                                  the  Hospice  Palliative  Care
        person was labelled palliative                                                 team  when  they  were  first
        only a few weeks before death.                                                 diagnosed  with  their  illness,
        I  mention  the  word  label.                                                  there  would  have  been  a
        Unfortunately,  for  the  most                                                 seamless  transition  of  care.
        part, that is what palliative has                                              The  person  and  their  family
        become…a label.                                                                could  have  been  supported
            The    person    is   not                                                  throughout the illness until the
        palliative.  The person is living                                              person’s  death,  and,  then
        with  a  life  limiting/life                                                   following the death the family
        threatening  illness,  which  is                                               could be supported throughout
        not curable. This illness will                                                 the bereavement process.
        likely  progress  over  time;                                                      We need to stop labelling
        however,  it  can  be  actively                                                people as palliative and start
        managed with impeccable pain and symptom control. asking  ourselves  the  question:  “When  would  this
        These life-threatening illnesses include cancer, diseases person benefit from the palliative approach to care?”
        of the lung, heart and kidney, neurological illnesses, If  a  physician  could  ask  themselves  the  following
        congenital and metabolic illnesses affecting children, as question: “Would I be surprised if the patient sitting
        well as the chronic health conditions which are seen in before me in this office is alive a year from now?”  If
        the frail elderly.                                     the answer to this question is “yes,” then perhaps the
            The person is not palliative but will benefit from introduction of the palliative approach to care might be
        the introduction of the palliative approach to care. In considered.
        other words. The type of care, the philosophy of care,     By taking advantage of support services earlier in
        and the approach to care are palliative.               the illness, the person will benefit from better symptom
            The person may feel abandoned by their specialist control which, in turn, may improve their quality of life.
        who after months, or even years, of providing care may The person may become more involved in deciding
        suddenly say: “There is nothing more that can be done. what their future health care will look like; they may
                                                                                                   (continued on pg. 17)

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