Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast

Four Facets of End of Life Care

September 27, 2021 Hospice Quinte Season 4 Episode 29
Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast
Four Facets of End of Life Care
Show Notes Transcript

Generally speaking, people who are dying need care in four areas—physical and practical help, mental support, help for emotional needs, and processing spiritual issues.  Quality hospice palliative care should address the needs of all four areas.  Listen to this week's podcast to find out how to give care in each of these four areas.

About Hospice Quinte
Hospice Quinte provides individuals, their families, and caregivers with compassionate end of life care, by attending to their physical, psychosocial, and practical needs, and offering empathetic care to those who are grieving through visiting hospice services and support groups.  All Hospice Quinte programs and services are provided by compassionate, well-trained volunteers and staff at no charge to the individual or their family.  

Hospice Quinte serves a population of over 102,000 in Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. To find out more visit HospiceQuinte.ca.

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Hospice palliative care is a term that refers to health care for a person in the advanced stage of a terminal illness as they near the end of life. Generally speaking, people who are dying need care in four areas—physical and practical help, mental support, help for emotional needs, and processing spiritual issues.  Quality hospice palliative care should address the needs of all four areas.  There’s an ancient proverb that says : “We are all a house of four rooms – Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual.”  Because of this proverb, these four areas of need are often referred to as “four rooms”.

Lets break them down to have a better understanding of what goes on in each of the four rooms of four lives.  The first room is physical needs.  This is the easiest room to define.   It’s where all physical activity happens.  In your life, it is breathing, smelling, seeing, hearing, speaking.  It is in this room that our physical life exists. It is also the very room in which end of life begins – when our physical body contracts a life ending disease, it all begins in the physical room.  It is also in this room that pain is realized. 

All of our mental capacities exist in room number two – This is where you will see cognitive abilities; things like presence of mind and thinking – and it is where memories abide.  It is in THIS ROOM here that we have the ability to do math, science, remember how to change a tire, or remember how many tablespoons is in a cup.  Room number two  is where all of our thinking takes place.  It is in this room that the realization happens when the news of a life ending disease is explained.   It is here that we become aware.

Room number three is the emotional room – where all of our emotions reside. Happiness, sadness, anxiety, euphoria, relief, frustration, disappointment.  All of these live in room number three.  Emotions are part and parcel of every human’s psyche.   We are creatures with the ability to react to situations, and it is in this room that our response to the first two rooms exist.  Follow along with the progression, as you will probably already sense that as we progress in life, we move from room to room.

The fourth room is the one room that most people spend the least amount of time.  It is also the room where there seems to be the most misunderstanding.  Often when the word “spiritual” is mentioned, people’s response is immediate –  they respond with things like “oh, I’m not religious” --- or … “ I don’t go to church.”  

That misunderstanding is often why room number four is avoided.  The truth is  Religion is NOT spirituality.   Webster’s dictionary defines a person’s spirit as “ The force within a person that is believed to give the body life, energy and power.”  The person that you are --- the way in which people will someday remember us, when we are gone --- THAT is what room number four contains.  It is in this fourth room where your beliefs and rituals and values exist.  It is in this room where, at end of life, people begin to think about their life as a whole and contemplate legacy work.   

So let’s bring all four rooms into perspective for end of life care.  Room number one is where your life begins and where it begins its end.  It is here that physical body begins its final journey.   As this happens,  the door of room number two opens – we begin to be aware of the disease, the diagnosis, the prognosis, the ripple effect .  It is in this room that we begin to make final arrangements.  When a doctor says “get your affairs in order,”  our mind immediately goes to room number two – to make sure we have dealt with all of the essentials to go the process of life ending.

And in that process – room number three shows up – with emotions like sadness about leaving family or relief about pain ending.  And then it is only a short step away to room number four where you start to evaluate all of the things you’ve achieved in your life and you prepare for the end of life.  Though we spend the BULK of our time in room number one – we are still a house of four rooms, all of which come into play at the end of life. 

Hospice Quinte provides individuals, their families, and caregivers with compassionate end of life care, by attending to their physical, psychosocial, and practical needs, and offering empathetic care to those who are grieving through visiting hospice services and support groups.  All Hospice Quinte programs and services are provided by compassionate, well-trained volunteers and staff at no charge to the individual or their family.  We serve a population of over 102,000 in Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.