Transitions and Shifting Goals of Care for Palliative Patients and Their Families

Wendy Duggleby

Patricia H. Berry

CJON 2007, 9(4), 425-428. DOI: 10.1188/05.CJON.425-428

Terminally ill patients and their families experience many confusing and, at times, traumatic transitions. Examples of such transitions include transitions from cure to comfort care, transitions related to loss, changes in care settings, and psychosocial and spiritual transitions. The purpose of this article is to discuss the experiences of palliative patients and their families as they journey through transitions and how oncology nurses can provide support. Using a composite case study from actual clinical cases as a framework for discussion, the authors present examples of evidence-based strategies that can be used by oncology nurses. Critical points from the case study are

• Adjustment to death is a process and cannot be rushed.

• The needs of a palliative patient and family should be heard, honored, and not questioned or challenged.

• A patient and family should remain in control of decision making, with the hospice and palliative care team acting as guides and facilitators.

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