Doctors are not the only healthcare professionals in end of life care
While there may be many different kinds of Doctors involved in healthcare, there are many other caring providers:
Nurses. In hospital, nurses are in the ‘front-line’. Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Educators, Nurse Clinicians – many of whom have specialties, eg. Pain, Incontinence, Palliative Care
Health Care Aides (HCA) and Personal Support Workers (PSW). Often even more ‘front line’ than nurses, HCA and PSW’s often spend the most time with people – helping with activities of daily living: eating, bathing, and other activities
Social Workers. Their role may include finding out-of-hospital community-based resources, in addition to being an emotional sounding board
Psychologists. Trained to listen and support
Chaplains and Pastoral Care. Spiritual care needs, including those not necessarily specific to any religion or culture
Speech and Swallowing Therapists. They know the difference between normal aging vs communication or swallowing functions impaired by illness or trauma (eg Stroke) and help improve both
Respiratory Therapists. They help with breathing difficulties: whether asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, cardiovascular disorders, and trauma.They’ll help with comfort and managing ventilators and artificial airway devices for patients who can’t breathe normally on their own
Occupational Therapist. Their focus is on what ‘occupies’ your life, and making that easier for example:positioning, seating and mobility, adaptive and assistive equipment, energy conservation, activities of daily living,
Physiotherapist. Physiotherapists rehabilitate those who have had strokes or some disabling condition.
Physiotherapists can assist with joint problems, especially joint pain and flexibility, and breathing difficulties.
Dieticians. Eating problems that can be common with hospice patients, including loss of appetite, nausea, and weight loss, a dietitian can be an important source of information for improving overall quality of life.
Geriatric Dentistry. Oral care often requires special approach for those with tremors e.g. Parkinson’s, Huntington’s Chorea Dementia or Stroke. Side effects of certain medications can include dry mouth, mouth sores and thrush.
Recreation Therapists. Work with people who have illnesses and disabling conditions to improve their health and quality of life through leisure and recreation such as art and music therapy.
Interesting reading: Personal Support Workers help with Activities of Daily Living