Working as a home health aide, you will come across several cases where your client is well aware of their mortality. In many cases they will want to talk about their situation with you. While they could talk to their loved ones about their feelings, they usually don’t want to worry them. They assume that you are a trusted source of information and comfort in their time of need. Here are a few tips to remember when talking with a dying client:
Your client is likely to ask you a lot of questions about your condition and the death process itself. While you are legally free to speak on this subject with your client, it is essential that you make certain to be absolutely honest with them. If you do not have the factual answer, tell them so. You client will not expect you to have all of these answers, sometimes they just want to express their concerns to a understanding listener who is willing to hear them out. By simply confirming their expressions and sympathizing with their emotions, you are doing better than they likely expect.
Avoid False Hope
In some stages of dealing with the dying process, your client may reach out to you to provide them with the help that they will magically find a way out of this and return to normal health again. Whatever you do, do not give them the impression that they will be ok or that their health will improve. This will only make their final moments with their family miserable as they are holding on to a miracle while the family is trying to get them to focus on their final chance together and let them pass with understanding and acceptance.
Do not Say Too Much
During your client’s verbalizing of their emotions concerns and thoughts about this process, try not to take over the conversation. Let the client run their thoughts out without interruption. A simple nod of your head, an unhurried look in your eyes as you listen closely and the occasional single word or phrase of agreement such as “I understand how you must feel, I imagine I would feel the same way” is enough. If you take over the conversation or try to change the subject and move on to another task, you are showing the client they do not matter and that you simply want to get on with your day as they struggle to find closure in their life.
Dealing with a dying patient is not easy and I have worked with a countless number of them in my career. The best advice I can give you is to be prepared for this role as listener and caretaker and do your best to engage a normal life for yourself outside of your work to avoid dwelling on the situation.