Medical advancements have significantly promoted the quality of life. However, these advancement in treatment may present terminally ill patients as well as their loved ones with difficult choices at the end of life care. The consideration of institution of end-of-life care is an emotionally charged issue not only for the patient but also for the family members and the caregivers. Balboni et al. (2018) argue that there exists variations in the attitudes amongst cultures and religions. Decision in provision of end-of-life care are influenced by the religious beliefs of the patients, their families and care givers. In the Catholic tradition, each person is a unity of the soul and the body. The Catholics believe that a person is an ensouled body whereby the soul gives life to the body (Balboni et al. 2018).
Considerations when providing care for Catholics
When providing end-of life care to the Catholic community, the healthcare provider should put into consideration various aspects surrounding end-of-life care including pain management, nutrition, and hydration. Pain management is paramount is paramount in terminally ill patient. Pain is subjective and each person has unique experience. Besides, physical pain can result in anxiety, depression, and can negatively affect relationships. Catholic teachings accept that although management can relieve physical suffering it can also lead to loss of consciousness by the patient (Balboni et al. 2018). Administration of high doses is morally permissible if unconsciousness is not the intention of the pain medication.
Nutrition and hydration are basic human needs. People often feel an overwhelming desire to give their loved ones water and food (Brinkman-Stoppelenburg, Rietjens & Heide, 2014). However when death is looming, water and food may even be unnecessary and may even cause additional complications to the person’s suffering. The Catholic faith advocates provision of food and water until it is seen to have attained its proper finality.
Balboni, M. et al. (2018). The Views of Clergy Regarding Ethical Controversies in Care at the End of Life. Journal of pain and symptom management, 55(1), 65-74.
Brinkman-Stoppelenburg, A., Rietjens, J. A., & Heide, A. (2014). The effects of advance care planning on end-of-life care: a systematic review. Palliative medicine, 28(8), 1000-1025.