Psychosocial and Spiritual Support
Patients’ physical pain is often only one aspect of their struggles, the social or spiritual issued faced by patients in this time are many. Finding peace with family or with God is often an important part of preparing to die. Patients are free to talk with HAU clinicians about spiritual issues; there are also spiritual advisors that HAU can work with to support a patient, though it is more common for HAU to work with a patient’s family and personal spiritual support system to address these concerns. There are also social issues that trouble patients. There are those challenges that affect the patient while alive and those that worry the patient concerning their imminent death. As HAU patients are very often living in poverty there are struggles with basic necessities, including food, bedding as well as the medical expenses that HAU cannot provide, investigations and treatment for things like cancer. HAU maintains a fund for addressing these needs such that patients in great need can be supported. Patients are also often very concerned about their family when they have died. Addressing this can be done in many ways including helping to create a will and communicating with the family about this or sorting out pensions and social security. HAU has social workers and partners with other organisations to support patients with these issues.
Addressing the social and spiritual needs of a patient can be just as important as addressing the physical concerns to ensuring a patient is prepared and is able to die in peace. The HAU team is multidisciplinary and has many partners to make this happen for every patient on its programme.
Patients in need of palliative care will very often die; that is the reality of hospice care. It is a difficult part of the work of any hospice provider. The goal of HAU is to ensure patients die in a manner that is as comfortable as possible at peace with their death and leaving their families. The work of HAU is not complete at the time of the death of a patient. The bereavement period is an important part of caring for the patient’s family. Depending on the circumstances of each patient HAU will provide bereavement support through a phone call, a visit or going to the burial. There is also an annual memorial service to honour those patients that were lost during the year. This is an important event for the families of patients and HAU team members. Reflecting on these losses is necessary to ensure the value of what HAU was made to do is not forgotten and the heart of what we do remains the patient and their family.