Hospice Care of Cancer Patients
Although Hospice care and palliative care operate under the same principle of comfort and support, patients usually receive palliative care earlier in the disease process while they receive hospice care later when therapies can no longer control the disease process (Connor, 2010). Therefore, hospice care is a form of palliative care that a person receives when cancer therapies cannot control the disease (Bernise, 2010). The care focuses on caring and not curing a person diagnosed with a terminal illness and is approaching the end of life (Forman, 2009). Besides, the goal of management is to prolong life and alleviate suffering (Connor, 2010). Research done earlier has shown that comprehensive management of patients with cancer increases their life expectancy but there is no exploration of this relation among hospice cancer patients. Additionally, very few health care providers are familiar with the components of hospice care of cancer patients. Therefore, the objective of the study was to explore the components of hospice care of cancer patients in both the health care facilities and the patients’ homes. It was a descriptive study and it involved interviewing the various players in hospice care using questionnaires that I personally administered.
Hospice care of cancer patients has four components that include physical, emotional, spiritual, and practical (Forman, 2009). The physical component address the physical needs of the cancer patients that include comfort, nutrition, hygiene, wound care, observation of vital signs, physical exercises, and medication (Forman, 2009). On the other hand, the emotional component addresses the psychological needs of the patients that are in need of love and encouragement and the need for warm interaction, appreciation, and reassurance (Forman, 2009). Additionally, the spiritual component addresses the patients’ needs of being closer to their maker and attaching meaning to life (Connor, 2010). Finally, the practical component addresses the patients’ need for company and association without stigma and the need for treatment as people with values, worth, and dignity (Forman, 2009). Therefore, comprehensive hospice care will consider all the four components for each patient (Connor, 2010).
The physical component of hospice care addresses the physical problems of the cancer patients that are pain, anorexia, fatigue, insomnia, and dyspnea (Connor, 2010). There are various therapies used to address these problems and they include medication therapies, physical therapies, nutritional therapies, chemotherapies, and surgical therapies (Forman, 2009). Medication therapies involve the use of medications to treat the presenting signs and symptoms (Whitely, 2008). For instance, an analgesic alleviates pain, multivitamins boost the appetite, and antidepressants alleviate insomnia caused by depression (Connor, 2010). Besides, medication therapy also involves wound dressing because some cancer patients have wounds (Whitely, 2008 ). On the other hand, physical therapy entails assisting the patient to perform activities of daily living like oral care, body hygiene, and feeding because most cancer patients are bedridden (Forman, 2009 ). Additionally, physical therapy involves physiotherapy to improve the blood circulation of cancer patients and reduce the risk of developing pressure sores that are associated with immobility (Connor, 2010). Nutritional therapy involves the provision of a balanced diet because a well nutritious diet helps in bodybuilding thus alleviating fatigue (Bernise, 2010). Besides, the patient can receive nutritional counseling (Forman, 2009). Finally, chemotherapies and surgical therapies shrink tumors that usually cause pain (Forman, 2009). In the study done, most hospice care addressed the physical needs of the patients because they had an aim of prolonging patients’ life and increasing their comfort.
The emotional component of hospice care addresses the psychological needs of the err patients (Bernise, 2010). The health care professionals provide resources that help patients and their families deal with emotions that usually come with a diagnosis of cancer and treatment (Forman, 2009). For instance, the health care professional can counsel both the patients and the family (Whitely, 2008). Besides, a referral to a support group or mental health facility for further management is of great significance (Forman, 2009). Finally, the health care provider can address depression and anxiety by the use of anxiolytics like lithium and antidepressants like amitriptyline (Bernise, 2010). In the study done, little emphasis was on emotional care because most of the interviewees responded that they mostly focused on patients’ counseling.
The spiritual component of hospice care helps cancer patients strengthen their faith in God and attach meaning to life (Forman, 2009). The health care provider should encourage the client to view life more positively and give them the freedom to worship according to their faith (Connor, 2010). This spiritual freedom is important because it helps the cancer patient to forgive others and have the assurance that their maker still accepts them (Forman, 2009). Finally, a health care provider can help the cancer patient explore their beliefs so that they can find a sense of peace or accept their conditions (Connor, 2010). In the study done, most of the health care providers assumed the spiritual component because they believed that cancer patients have lost hope of living.
The practical component of hospice care of cancer patients addresses the following issues: insurance questions, employment concerns, financial worries and legal worries (Forman, 2009). This is because many patients face the above problems but they do not know the appropriate action (Connor, 2010). As a result, the health care provider assists both the cancer patients and the significant others in coordinating the appropriate services (Forman, 2009). For instance, the health care provider can direct the patient and significant others to resources that help with financial counseling and understanding legal advice (Connor, 2010). Besides, the health care provider can also help the patient to identify local resources like the housing agencies (Forman, 2009). In the study done, the practical component of the hospice care of cancer patients was unmentioned (Connor, 2010).
In conclusion, most hospice care does not fully utilize the four components of care of the cancer patients. Although the physical care received much focus, it did not entail all the required therapies. For instance, they concentrated so much on pain-relieving and forgot physiotherapy. On the other hand, emotional care received little attention because of the belief that cancer patients are dying and attending to their emotions is vanity. Besides, the spiritual component passed unnoticed because the healthcare providers saw no need of helping a cancer patients grow spiritually because they have no hope of living ( Bernise, 2010). Finally, The practical care of the cancer patients was completely unattended because the health care providers did not want to get involved with the social life of the patients., therefore,re recommend that hospice care of cancer patients should involve the four components of care so that the patients receive quality services that can prolong their lives. Additionally, health care providers should be educated on the four components of hospice care so that they are familiar with its significance to the cancer patients and the community at large.
Bernise, S. 2010, Hospice: Practical, Pitfall, and Promise. North Carlifornia,Springer.
Connor, B. 2010, Hospice and Paliative Care. New York, Taylor and Fransis.
Forman, W. 2009, Hospice and Paliative Care: Concept and Practice. Michgan, Jones and Barlet Learning.
Halley, G. 2009, Hospice Care of Cancer Patients. New York, Taylor and Fransis.
Whitely, K. 2008, Palliative Care in Cancer: Management and Prognosis. London, Willey