Living Well, Leaving Well. Understanding Palliative Care.

I attended the public symposium “Living Well, Leaving Well, Understanding Palliative Care” by two distinguished speakers: Dr Suresh Reddy and Dr Jan Aldridge on a Saturday 22 March 2014.

Dr Suresh presented ‘Key Decisions in Palliative Care’ and Dr Jan Aldridge presented ‘The Family in Palliative Care’.

It was an informative talk by two very passionate doctors in the field of palliative care.

Something I learned during the talk:

1. Advance Care Planning. We buy life insurance to manage uncertainty and for protection of our loved ones in the future. Why not make known to our family members (when we are still lucid) what we want in term of medical treatment when we are inflicted with serious illness in the future? Do we want to be treated at all cost and subject ourselves to invasive intervention by the medical team? This can remove some guilt from family members if a certain course of action is taken according to our wishes.

2. Family members are important to patients. Their presence and love help to ease pains of patients. A story was told when a patient was in so much pain, a gentle touch on the shoulder of the patient by a fellow patient in the ward brought some relief to the pain for the first patient. Imagine family members can do even more to help the patient eases the pain and anguish.

3. The mood of patient changes. One week, the patient is happy to chat with you. Come another week, he may not have the mood to chat because of the condition he is in. Caregiver or visitors should not take this to heart but to continue to connect with the patient. Bear in mind that patients are affected by conditions they are in and not necessarily targeting at caregivers specifically in their frustrations.

Some take-away quotes:

1. Follow the heart but take your brain with you… when making decisions in a clinical environment.

2. Treat the human with the disease and not treat the disease… do not forget to focus on the human being.

3. What cannot be cured must be cared…. palliative care comes in here.

4. Earthing the pain of patients… a gentle touch or just be with the patient reduces pain somewhat of the patient.

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