Have a friend or loved one in the last stage of their lives? It is important that you are sensitive when communicating with them.
“Good communication is the heart of effective palliative care. It allows us to connect with [people in the end-stage of their lives], understand their priorities and wishes, as well as support them in making informed decisions about their care,” says Dr Loo Yu Xian, a consultant at the Department of Post-Acute & Continuing Care at Outram Community Hospital. He adds that empathy can help relieve their pain, and positivity, their physical and emotional complexities.
Prabha D/O Techna Mitti, a senior medical social worker at Sengkang Community Hospital, shares that a new nurse was at a loss for words when family members asked about a patient’s declining health and was unsure how to properly comfort them. Prabha and her team had to helped her overcome this this challenge by equipping her with communication skills to build up her confidence.
Whether palliative patients or their family members, it is common for them to experience emotional distress during these times. However, you can support them by knowing the right things to say. Dr Loo says that these include things like:
“It must be hard to come to terms with how things are going…”
“What about this worries you, and what can I do to help?”
“I will be here with you even when doctors have done all they can to treat you.”
“What would give you some comfort at this point in time?”
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