When approaching the end of life, many of the greatest challenges facing a patient involve autonomy.
A patient’s autonomy is their right to self-determination. When we have autonomy, it means we are able to carry out our wishes, instead of having others’ imposed upon us.
Facing a terminal condition can strip away facets of a patient’s agency by eroding physical or mental capabilities.
As hospice providers, one of our roles is to do everything possible to maximize patients’ autonomy. Here are a few ways that we do that.
- Remaining in the home. Hospice is not a place that a person goes; it is a type of care that is provided. Most of that care happens right in the patient’s home. This helps to preserve autonomy in a couple of ways. For one thing, many patients prefer to keep living at home where they are comfortable and have a sense of independence. For another, the familiarity that a patient has with their home as well as any features they have added to make it accessible can help them to retain a greater degree of agency each day.
- Palliative care. Much of hospice revolves around palliative care, which is care aimed at increasing comfort and reducing pain. Being in pain makes it difficult to concentrate or carry out tasks, which can hinder agency and autonomy. By mitigating pain, we help patients to function better, which can keep them in greater control of their lives. And just as many patients prefer to stay in their homes, most also would prefer not to be in pain. So, they may feel more at home within their bodies when palliative care is provided.
- Physical therapy. By offering physical therapy, we help patients to continue to walk, bend, and do other daily movements that they need to stay mobile and accomplish tasks.
- Counseling. While physiological factors can hamper a patient’s ability to direct their own life, emotional and psychological factors can also restrict a person’s autonomy. Someone who is not getting the support they need for their mental health may struggle to make decisions or act in their own best interests. But a person who is receiving counseling and resources can be given the tools they need to continue to advocate for themselves and control what they are still able to control.
- Caring professionals. Finally, as a patient’s hospice providers, the staff at Journey strives to be that patient’s advocates. We listen carefully to our patients’ wishes and do everything in our power to honor them fully. We also can help facilitate dialogue between patients and their primary caregivers, working together as a team to make sure that the patient’s autonomy remains intact over their final months.
Get the Respectful Care You or Your Loved One Needs
Journey Palliative and Hospice is based in Burbank, and serves patients and their loved
ones throughout Kern, LA, Ventura and Orange Counties. To find out how we can
provide compassionate care with full respect for you or your loved one’s autonomy, please give us a call at (818) 748-3427.