Nurses and CNAs- How to Talk to Your Patients About Death

nurseWhether you’re a career nurse or you’ve just finished CNA training, there’s one thing that connects everyone working in the health care industry: death. It’s inevitable. We fight it every day, attempting to gain just a little bit more time for each of our patients, but sometimes there’s nothing we can do. When that happens, we do our best to make those last moments the best for them. We make them comfortable, hold their hand and let them know they are not alone.

Death is a hard fact of life for anyone, and that doesn’t change when you become a nurse or CNA. While you may have to deal with death more often, you don’t become used it. You may find ways of coping, but each death still has an effect. One of the hardest parts of dealing with this part of life is talking about it, especially with patients who are actually facing it or their family members. It’s your job, however, to make sure they have the information they need so they are prepared. If you’re having trouble speaking of these grim matters, consider the following tips.

Nurse and CNA Advice: Talking About Death

  • Don’t Make it Taboo- For the longest time, talking about death (Cue shocked gasps) was something that just wasn’t done. Many people, including health care professionals, thought that ignoring it and attempting to do whatever it took to keep people alive was the best way to go about things. The truth is, though, death is a part of life, and it’s a guaranteed one. When speaking to your patients, be as open as possible on the subject. Let them talk about it. Don’t make it a taboo subject.
  • Ask Them What They Want- Start off a conversation about death by asking your patients exactly what they want their death to be like. Do they want to be surrounded by family and friends? Who do they want making decisions for them when they no longer can? Do they want to cling to life as long as possible with every extraordinary measure taken? Get the facts now.
  • Include the Family- While the patient may be the one dying, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the wishes of the family. Find out what their family members have to say about the death of their loved one. Open lines of communication between the family members and the patient so everyone has a chance to voice their thoughts before it is too late.
  • Provide Options- Death isn’t something many of use dwell on, but it is something that patients need to consider carefully. If you are a nurse or health care assistant, providing plenty of options to patients facing the end of their life is important. They may not know what they want until they are aware of what’s available to them.

Death and Your Patients: Nurses and Health Care Assistants

Do you know how to talk to your patients about death? Make sure you’re keeping those lines of communication open, even about sensitive subjects like this so you can be the best CNA or nurse possible.

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