The concept of dignity is not easily defined, particularly when it comes to patient care. When the word dignity is mentioned, the concepts of respect, communication, and empowerment come out.
Taking these concepts and using them in the context of patient care, especially for people who are close to death, gives an idea of respecting people’s privacy at this time of their lives. It also means medical professionals should give them information about the situation and making sure the patients don’t lose their self-worth and self-esteem.
Meeting the Needs of the Patient
The promotion of self-respect and nurturing self-esteem among patients who are close to death necessitates meeting their needs. These needs include physical needs, emotional needs, and spiritual needs.
Protecting the dignity of the patient requires caring for them in a suitable environment. The environment should allow the proper delivery of end-of-life care. This requires the proper management of symptoms, including pain and nausea, among others.
It is also essential to meet the emotional needs of the patients, which means medical professionals are encouraged to listen and talk to the patients. Conveying empathy as well as involving them in the decision-making process can also help in meeting their emotional needs.
Lastly, meeting the spiritual needs allows the patients to have a sense of dignity even with their situation. The spiritual needs go beyond religion and are mainly involved in providing access to people who can help ease the feeling of anxiety in the patients.
It is also important to consider the age of the patients when meeting their needs. For instance, the sense of normality is essential for children with cancer. The idea of death should not be emphasized in these situations. On the other hand, older patients may be more open in discussing their situation, particularly with those professional hospice care.
Maintaining the Dignity of the Patient
Meeting the needs of the patients can give them the dignity they deserve. The above-mentioned principles are translated into the following practical ways of giving dignity to people who are close to death.
1. Medical professionals should talk to the patients directly and avoid talking about them while inside the room with them. Referring to the patient in the third person should be avoided when discussing the situation with the patient present.
2. Do not share the patient’s personal information outside of what the care team needs. It’s important to protect the information of the patients. Medical and care professionals should understand that it is a privilege for them to know about the life of the patient.
2. Avoid using technical terms and jargon when discussing something important with the patients. The patients should understand the terms used by the medical professional. They should also practice empathy and never patronize the patients. Medical professionals should also listen to the concerns of the patients and gradually earn their trust.
4. Care professionals should keep the patients covered to protect their physical privacy. They should use a towel or blanket to cover the patient. Care professionals should only uncover the parts that require washing and keep everything else covered.
5. It is also important to ask the patients how they want to be cared for. For instance, care professionals can ask the patient how they want their hair brushed. They should also ask permission before doing anything. This is particularly true when care professionals have to touch the patients.
6. Care professionals should maintain a respectful atmosphere to maintain the dignity of the patient. They should make sure the patients are comfortable and all their needs are met. It’s also essential to continue talking to the patient even if they aren’t responsive. Care professionals should assume the patient can still hear them even in these situations.
Treating patients with respect and meeting their needs give them the dignity they deserve even as they are already close to death.