Michael Gordon, MD, MSc, FRCPC, Medical Program Director, Palliative Care, Baycrest Geriatric Health Care System, Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.
The end of one's life is always a challenge for all involved; the patient reaching what may be recognized as the last stages of life, family members who in general only want the best for their loved one, and health care professionals who are professionally, legally, and ethically dedicated to provide the best care possible. For health care providers who combine the philosophy of palliative and hospice care with the care of elders, even greater challenges commonly occur because of the complex nature of family dynamics, relationships, and belief systems, that often influence family expectations and thus patient care. The challenge to healthcare providers is to navigate the many potential minefields when such challenges exist. When successful, the satisfaction that result from achieving a clinically compassionate, caring, and comfortable death for the patient and give solace to the family are well worth the effort.
Key Words:Hospice care, palliative care, end-of-life care, family conflicts, ethical and legal duties of staff, palliative sedation, client-centered care, patient-centered care.