While most of us don’t enjoy thinking about death, it’s a reality that everyone must face at some point in our lives, whether dealing with the loss of a loved one or our mortality. Especially as a career seeker pursuing the health care aide path, learning to navigate death and dying will benefit the support you provide to your clients and their families, your mental health, and your ability to deal with loss in your personal life.
Excellent palliative care can give clients and families the closure they need at the end of life, potentially making a devastating event more peaceful and manageable. As a health care aide, you can have the privilege of facilitating this. Keep reading to understand what palliative or end-of-life care involves, how to support clients, and how to manage your grief when a patient dies.
What Is Involved in Palliative Care After Career College?
Palliative care is a holistic, person-centred healthcare approach for seriously or terminally ill patients. The main objective is to alleviate symptoms from the illness and pain, improving the quality of life for patients as they approach the end of life. Of course, palliative care does not end with pain management and other medical treatments.
The death and dying process is highly emotional, and compelling palliative care honours the vast emotions of this stage of life. In addition, many patients find it very comforting to rely on their spirituality during the end of life, and caregivers should support this. With all of that being said, palliative care plans vary from one patient to the next. It often takes the work of several healthcare professionals, caregivers, and loved ones to create a care plan that’s been effectively tailored to each individual’s needs. If you’re pursuing health care aide training, you’re likely wondering what your role in quality end-of-life care looks like.
What Is the Role of Health Care Aides in End of Life Care
Alberta’s Health Care Aide’s Palliative Care Competency Framework describes the tools that come together to create effective palliative care for your clients after career college. The domains of palliative care competency include:
- Principles of Palliative Care: Quality palliative care involves patient and family-centeredness; equitable access; collaborative and integrated team service delivery; communication and information sharing; safe; ethical and quality care; sustainability and accountability; clearly defined governance and administration models; and research.
- Communication: Excellent communication is necessary for quality palliative care regarding collaborative decision-making, empathetic communication with patients, and resolving ambiguous causes of distress at the end of life.
- Care Planning and Collaborative Practice: Care planning is a collaborative practice that involves addressing, coordinating, and integrating patient and family-centred care.
- Optimizing Comfort and Quality of Life: Relieving suffering is essential to palliative care.
- Loss, Grief, and Bereavement: Palliative care involves supporting families and communities where possible to manage the death of a loved one.
- Professional and Ethical Practice: Health care aides must follow a code of professionalism and ethics to provide palliative care.
- Cultural Safety: Palliative care should make patients feel safe and free from discrimination.
Managing the Loss of a Patient After Health Care Aide Training
Caring for a dying patient can be a consummate process that can leave caregivers with many emotions. Part of your role as a health care aide involves bonding with patients to boost their quality of life as they deal with their declining health. Perhaps you’ve cared for them over time and inevitably grown attached. You must acknowledge your grief as you help patients and their families understand the situation.
After completing your health care aide diploma, you’ll be fully prepared to support patients at various stages of their lives, and it will undoubtedly be an honour to help patients and their families navigate death and dying.