Course 6: Part 2: Palliative Care 3—The Healthcare Provider as Patient Advocate

“You matter because of who you are. You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.”
-Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement

It is common in Western culture to separate the process of dying from the act of living by avoiding the fact that death is approaching. By denying or shielding patients, relatives and ourselves from the inevitability of death, we can miss opportunities to ease emotional turmoil. Acceptance is often the gateway to opening channels of communication that would otherwise remain closed to us, that can provide shared moments of honesty where patients often feel truly alive despite their terminal prognosis.

This course, a continuation of Palliative Care 1 and 2, explores the unique experiences of patients at the end of life. Focusing on the benefits of opting for palliative care, we look at the ways in which medical staff must navigate complex interpersonal relationships during end-of-life care. To ensure good palliative care, healthcare providers need to engage openly with patients and their families, skillfully championing the patient’s ever-changing needs. The theme of communication is at the core of this module.

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