Death and dying have always been a part of our lives as therapists in long term care. Coping with family members and administering care and treatment to our residents at the end of life can be personally challenging. Often when Hospice is called in to manage care near the end of life, therapy is not actively involved. However, there are circumstances when the care of a resident necessitates a short course of skilled therapy intervention to promote independence, comfort, quality of life and quality of death. This is a very valid and needed approach in the long term care arena. Unfortunately, some therapists are uncomfortable providing treatment for these residents, and have difficulty coping emotionally and in providing appropriate documentation to support interventions.
Having lost my Dad recently, I can speak to the need for skilled services to promote a sense of independence and well-being right up to the very end of life; how very important it is to the individual to maintain a sense of dignity and retain their abilities. Our independence is what drives us as human beings and being able to support and care for our resident’s during this time is priceless.
As clinicians, we must educate ourselves so that we can be comfortable providing needed skilled care and not be biased in providing that care to the Hospice resident. Functional Pathways has a helpful training tool titled “Pathways to Palliative and Comfort Care” that introduces aspects of care and training to assist therapists in providing clinically appropriate treatment to the Hospice resident.