A colleague of mine is an author and has written a book regarding the process of her father’s death. She receives many requests and suggestions regarding the need for a professional ‘support’ group, or a place where dialogue can occur among professionals on the topic of death. This is why I have created the End-of-Life Discussion Group for Professionals. It is a group for professionals to share with one another on the topic of death, dying and end-of-life; whether from a personal perspective or professional one.
We can all learn from one another by sharing stories, articles, blog posts and research. But often what is missing is the ability to ‘vent’ the difficulties professionals face in their role working with individuals who are dying, diagnosed with chronic health conditions or a progressive health issue or illness.
It would be wonderful if meaningful dialogue can occur and professionals, whether from the field of social work, mental health, psychology, psychiatry, clergy, trauma oriented, nursing, physicians, etc are able to connect with other professionals in the helping/medical and healthcare fields.
Consider this a group where linkage and access of professionals can occur to promote sharing and real talk. Sincere and meaningful communication has a healing effect. Respective discussions and dialogue are welcome by professionals. Anything of a derogatory, disrespectful or negative nature will be deleted.
As a professional who works with seniors/older adults, I have been exposed to many clients over the years who were diagnosed with chronic health conditions that progress. Some have fallen and broken a hip, collarbone or other bone. Hospitalization often occurs and some never leave the hospital and die there. Some transfer to a rehabilitation centre, others to a long term care facility and a few return home and die soon after. I have attended quite a few funerals.
I have been fortunate to know and to have worked with many of these clients for over 10+ years and in some cases for 13 years. When you develop a long-standing relationship and watch a client age, witness the frailty that occurs for some; it can be difficult. Death is inevitable and should a client want to discuss their impending departure, I am willing to listen. A professional needs to be with their client. At times a client may choose you over a family member to discuss end-of-life issues. Are you willing to go there? Do you feel comfortable to do so? If not, why not? If not, are you willing to push through the discomfort?
Education, awareness and advocacy are needed. All professionals that work with the chronically ill, those diagnosed with a progressive and degenerative illness, with seniors, in hospice or palliative care, medical settings, or healthcare need to receive training and education in this area; I have found it is sorely lacking. The first awareness and education piece should come while a person is in university or 2 year certificate/degree program; while they are being taught in their respective discipline. Next, it should take place in the work environment with regular training occurring along with support offered.
Professionals can burn-out and self-care is needed. Good supervision is needed along with support groups, or a support system among colleagues that allows professionals to vent, share and support one another.
I look forward to the dialogue!
Victoria Brewster, MSW
This post was first published at http://northernmsw.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/end-of-life-discussion-group-for-professionals-on-linkedin/ and was syndicated with the author’s permission.
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