Most smartphones include a camera feature, and if the phone camera has a touch screen, it is possible to tap on a specific section of an image to gain focus before taking a picture. The background lightens and the forefront darkens, or vice versa. This indicates that smartphone cameras have a single-lens construction, and can only focus light on one image section at a time (although the chattering tech wonks are foretelling dual lens focus on upcoming smartphone releases!).
The Patients We “See”
The single versus dual-lens camera feature is illustrated well for daily life in the 1998 feature film Patch Adams, in which the lead character (played by Robin Williams) commits himself to a mental health asylum where another patient, Arthur Mendelson, also lives. Mendelson is in the habit of holding up four fingers and asking others, “how many fingers do you see?” Inevitably, Mendelson’s talking partner answers, “four,” and he turns away in disgust.
Williams’ character encounters Mendelson and receives the same question, “how many fingers?” and gets it wrong – but engages further. Williams wants to know the answer to the riddle. Mendelson cajoles Williams, “No, no, look at me… you are focusing on the problem. If you focus on the problem, you can’t see the solution. Never focus on the problem. Look at me! How many do you see? No, look beyond the fingers. How many do you see?” Williams gazes at Arthur beyond the fingers, revealing the visual distortion of double the fingers. “Eight,” Williams responds. Delighted, Mendelson replies, Yes… eight’s a good answer. Yes. See what no one else sees. See what everyone else chooses not to see out of fear conformity or laziness. See the whole world anew each day.”
Comprehensive Comfort Care
This is how hospice care and palliative care providers understand comprehensive care for patients and their families. First, the hospice and palliative care team looks through the blur of tubes, drugs, and the incessant beeping of machines to see – really see – the patients they care for. Then, hospice and palliative care teams take a unique turn. Hospice and Palliative care provider focus on the patient and also see the crowd of family and other loved ones standing alongside them.
The people who need care multiply in the sigh of hospice and palliative care providers. Even if you aren’t “the sick one,” you are still an important loved one: a valued member of the patient’s care team and one who will need care in the time to come following the patient’s death.
You’re Not Alone
Hospice care is different than hospital-based medical care in that it looks to the comprehensive needs of patients and their families with a coordinated care approach, sometimes terms the biopsychosocial method of care. The hospice team includes medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, and therapists, while also extending to include social workers, psychologists, spiritual care providers, and trained volunteers. Hospice and palliative care teams assume that family members of patients are also an integral part of the broad-scope care of patients as they approach the final season of life.
The Role of Family Members
Family members often have a unique and intimate perspective on patients. They often have an acute sense of pain indicators, such as tone of voice, facial and body expressions, and verbal cues about what a patient is experiencing, enabling the medical portion of patient care teams to respond to patient pain and discomfort with greater precision. Hospice does not sideline the thoughts and observations of loved ones, but instead welcomes and embraces them are part of best practices for patient care.
Hospice and palliative care teams are well-acquainted with the kind of suffering family members experience as they accompany loved ones through the dying process. Hospice and palliative medicine research indicates that patients will be more relaxed, suffer less, and embrace their final days with greater grace and comfort when it is clear that their loved ones are also given care. Therefore, hospice and palliative care teams openly focus additional emotional and spiritual support opportunities for family members.
Who are the people in the hospice and palliative care neighborhood?
Social workers can help prepare families for life changes after a loved one’s death. They can alert family members to community resources and even help family members repair any damaged relationships prior to the moment of saying goodbye. Hospice can also help connect families with spiritual care leaders who can facilitate conversations that help prepare for death, and planning memorial services and other events to come. Spiritual leaders are also available to help families cope with spiritual questions they may face while experiencing the dying process and death.
Therapists, bereavement coordinators, and other support providers can help family members negotiate the feelings of loss and grief that inevitably emerge in preparation for and after the death of a loved one. Hospice volunteers are available to provide hospitality, companionship, and compassionate support. Furthermore, unlike a hospital that will frequently simply go through insurance companies to send bills, hospice and palliative care teams reach out in the year or more after a death with support opportunities, bereavement information, and acts of care that keep those who grieve afloat as they adjust to life after loss.
Contact Harbor Light Hospice Today!
For more information about how hospice and palliative care focuses on patients while also extending services to family members, please call Harbor Light Hospice or send us a message online today.