The awareness over recent years of the importance

Topics: FamilyFamily Members


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Last updated: December 30, 2019

The family is inevitablyinvolved in care-provision when one of its number suffers from alife-threatening illness such as advanced cancer. Distress reverberatesthroughout the family, with moderate rates of psycho-social morbidity. Therehas been growing awareness over recent years of the importance of afamily-centered model of care to fully meet the requirements of clients andfamilies involved with palliative care services and, furthermore, maintaincontinuity of support into bereavement.As I have noticed, there aresome physical aspects of caring in a family environment.

It is common for myclient with cancer to remain at home for much of her care. As she became lessable to carry out her usual tasks and care for herself, family members foundthemselves in the role of caregivers. This meant that their daily life hadchanged. My client, once beingdiagnosed as such, went through various crisis moments along the trajectory of herillness. The initial diagnosis of cancer is one, and the diagnosis of relapseis another. Cancer treatment, be it of curative or palliative intent, was ademanding period for the client and family both physically and emotionally.

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Asthe disease advances, disabilities and symptom progression were major sourcesof sufferings. Finally, when facing death, anticipatory grief was overwhelming.It goes without saying thatthe family members, being with my client, were also facing their own stressesand changing roles which may be directly or indirectly related to the client’sillness. The family went through the grief process before and after my client’sdeath. The cancer illness, therefore, became a family matter.The family members werecrucial in maintaining the wellbeing of my client at home.

The wellbeing of theclient in turn affected that of the HCA. When my client was not communicable orunable to speak for herself, the family acted as the proxy or surrogate forreporting symptoms and making medical decisions.Therefore, my client’s familymembers were HCAs and a care receiver. They had multiple roles, which werepotentially conflicting and challenging. They were facilitator or a barrierduring the care process at the same time. Besides, the people close to myclient played a significant role in ensuring that the patient receivedhigh-quality care as they near the end of life, in both community and hospitalsettings.

Many parents, other close relatives, as well as paid and unpaid HCAs,were involved in discussing issues with the client, enabling her to makechoices, supporting her to communicate their wishes, or participating directlyin their treatment and care. My clients’ relatives were granted legal power tomake healthcare decisions when my client had difficulties to make her ownchoices.The relatives required allnecessary information about the client’s diagnosis and about the likelyprogression of the condition or disease, in order to help them provide care andrecognize and respond to changes in my client’s condition. Furthermore, the importance ofspiritual needs in terms of palliative care should be underlined.

The relativestook into consideration a set of my client’s aspirations, convictions, values,and beliefs. For that reason, the family members did their best to optimize theclient’s own resources in order to enable her to face up to a dying process.

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