In our monthly Facebook Live series, Navigate Now: How Can We Help? nurse and patient navigators take an in-depth and candid look at aspects of oncology navigation today. On Wednesday, July 8, AONN+ Co-Founder Lillie D. Shockney moderated a discussion about end-of-life planning for patients with cancer. Guest speakers Cheryl Bellomo and Denise Yoshihara presented key information on removing barriers to discussing end-of-life plans with patients and shared insights they have gained through working with patients and family members.
Discussing end-of-life plans with patients is often challenging because of the strong emotions raised. Patients, their family members, and even their healthcare providers may wish to avoid this topic, and it can be awkward. Ms Bellomo and Ms Yoshihara agreed that crucial factors to consider include placing an emphasis on shared decision-making and understanding what factors would help guide patients toward a “good death.”
Top 3 Takeaways
- Oncology navigators should normalize the conversation around end-of-life decisions and care.
Oncology navigators should clarify definitions (eg, palliative care vs hospice) and expectations by stressing that death is a part of life and planning for it is something everyone should do, for example, by preparing an advance directive. Normalizing the process helps patients become more comfortable discussing their wants and needs.
- The wishes of the patient should be prioritized.
Often, family members, loved ones, and even caregivers have different, and possibly competing, goals for the patient’s treatment plan. But it is the wishes of the patient that need to be the most important, whether that includes choosing when to end or extend treatments or defining how they want to spend their remaining days.
- Begin the conversation early so that patients and family and even providers can prepare.
Planning for end of life is something that should be discussed from the very beginning of care so that patients do not feel that the discussion has suddenly been sprung upon them. Planning should become part of the overall treatment so that the patient’s wants and needs can inform other decisions made along the way. Decisions can be made with the ultimate goals of the patient in mind.
Join the conversation during our next Navigate Now: How Can We Help? Facebook Live event on Community Outreach, Early Detection, and Screening, taking place Wednesday, August 5, 2020, 1:00 pm-2:15 pm EDT.
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