How To Maintain Patient Dignity for Those in Hospice Care

Updated on September 4, 2021
How To Maintain Patient Dignity for Those in Hospice Care

Every patient must receive the care they need, even in hospice care, when they’ve reached the last remaining days of life. Many patients in this position share a common fear of losing their dignity and sense of independence, so before patients pass on, learn how to maintain patient dignity for those in hospice care.

Speak Directly To the Patient

Don’t make your patient feel invisible when meeting for the first time. In other words, when you’re with the patient, don’t speak in the third person; it can make them feel dependent and as if they don’t have a voice. Introduce yourself when you meet your patient and get to know them and their family to ensure everyone has an easy process through hospice care.

Speak Respectfully

Don’t talk about patients negatively. When you’re with your patient, speak in terms that they understand and don’t patronize them or make them feel invaluable. Also, when you’re away from your patient, don’t make jokes about them or speak negatively, even if they aren’t close by. When you’re around your patient, be understanding and empathetic and communicate openly with them to build trust.

Ask How Your Patient Wants To Be Cared For

Ask your patient what jobs they’re comfortable with giving you. For example, if a patient has trouble brushing their hair, ask if you could take over. If they say yes, ask how they like their hair done, and explain what you’re planning to do, especially if you’re going to touch the patient. If your patient isn’t aware that brushing hair is part of your routine, it might be a new occurrence for them, so be understanding if they decline your offer to help.

Create a Respectful Environment

When working with your patient, it’s essential to treat them with respect and maintain a peaceful environment in their final hours. To help the patient feel comfortable and satisfied, play soft music to help relax them. If a patient is religious, ensure those needs are met and continue to speak to them after they’ve departed and are no longer responsive. Since the hearing sense is the last to go, always assume that they can still hear you.

Protect the Patient’s Personal Information

Even after your patient has departed, or if they’re still in their final days, never divulge or gossip with workers or others about personal information regarding the patient or their family. The only time you should talk about the patient is with a member of the care team. As a medical care professional, it’s an honor to be in a patient’s life during their final moments.

When patients enter hospice, many assume their dignity and independence are gone. Ensure your patients are properly cared for and that they haven’t lost their dignity nor their autonomy. You develop a better sense of respect for patients when you learn how to maintain patient dignity for those in hospice care. Patients often come and go from hospice care rather quickly; make this a positive final memory for them and their families.

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