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06 May 2009

Support for the patient

Here are 15 quick tips for making the patient more comfortable.

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Here are 15 quick tips for making the patient more comfortable.
  1. Prevent boredom.

- help them to keep occupied
- provide things to keep them busy
  • Call for help.

  • - place a bell in the bedroom and bathroom
    - make sure the patient is able to reach and use it
  • Keep patient in touch with reality.

  • - hang a calendar in full view of the patient where the date and day is clearly visible
    - use big clock
    - include them in the planning of their routine, meals and equipment choices
  • The patient who is bedridden has not lost the ability to think.

  • - involve them in decision-making processes - participate/discuss issues
  • Encourage visits from friends and loved ones.

  • - this must be carefully monitored, to ensure the patient is not exhausted
  • Allow them to talk about their lives.

  • - this validates what they have done, their experiences, achievements etc (narrative therapy)
    - give them opportunity to voice concerns
  • Maintain the independence of the patient as far as possible.

  • - let them do things for themselves, if they can.
    - don’t take over everything
  • Bring into contact with spiritual leader or counsellor.

  • - make peace by mending relationships and dealing with “unfinished business”
  • Sorting out future of children and loved ones.

  • - allow them to be part of the decision-making process
  • Keep children informed about what’s going on.

  • - allow them to participate in the care of the ill person
    - maintain children’s routine (patient should not be overriding their routine)
    - be mindful of impact on children’s school performance
    - particularly hard on adolescents, who are going through developmental stage, may struggle to cope with sudden changes (eg. Mother going bald as result of chemotherapy).
  • Be mindful of the impact of role changes on the couple. (if spouse is ill)

  • - may affect their sexual relationship, be aware of those needs
  • Be sensitive. Communication is key.

  • - if patient is unable to communicate, you need to provide alternative means of communication so that they can still make their needs known
    - using signs, pictures, pointing, writing
  • Research shows that people who form part of a support group manage better and the burden of care is much easier.

  • - Become aware of what services are available in the community and encourage the use of community resources
    - join support groups, ideally support for both the caregiver and the patient
  • Children should be encouraged to find relevant support group where they can identify with others in the group.

  • - Keep the child’s school updated on what is going on
    - The school can also form part of the support system to the child
  • Caregivers should organise a platform to share ideas and learn from each other.

  • - this should occur independently of the patient

    (Thania Gopal, Health24, April 2009)

    Sources:
    Ester Pepper, Nursing Services Manager, St Lukes Hospice
    Priscilla Nelson, CEO St Lukes Hospice

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