There has been a lot of attention relative to improving end of life care. The complexity of patient health problems has created a need for diverse knowledge and skill sets to facilitate care. The article elaborates on interdisciplinary team interventions in end-of-life care and their focus on the biopsychosocial and spiritual dimensions of human experience to facilitate growth and development in the last phase of life. Interdisciplinary team care encompasses combining the expertise of a group of healthcare professionals from diverse fields to improve patient care. The author declares that despite its great promise for improving patient care, with the exception of hospice, this model is not widely implemented in today’s health care system.
The value of empowering the patient and family to direct the care they receive from their team is emphasized. Comprehensive patient care involves the establishment of physicians of various professions, skilled nursing experts, and other healthcare specialist. The interdisciplinary teams embraces the biopsychosocial framework as a guide for understanding forces that influence health and illness. Recognizing the mind and body as two important systems that are interlinked, this model considers biological, psychological and social factors when providing the best care for the patient. In addition to providing the best care for patients, a team approach is more likely to decrease potential for burnout and maintain a sense of personal worth for medical professionals who work with dying patients.
The main purpose of the article is to inform the reader of approaches of interdisciplinary teams in assisting with end-of-life care and decision making. The key question the author is asking is if these teams are a vital component in the total care of an individual. It is important that responsibilities are balanced as these team members share in the decision making. Each patient and family facing the end of life does so in a personal way. Supportive interdisciplinary teams do not try to force a right way to die on a patient and family. Hospice philosophy holds that to promote quality of life during terminal illness, care must address all dimensions of the human experience, including biological, psychological, social, and spiritual. Pain is experienced in all of these dimensions, and the dimensions influence each other.
The author describes different aspects of team functioning patient care with an emphasis on the characteristics of high-functioning interdisciplinary teams. Case studies are included that define the biopsychosocial benefits of higher functioning interdisciplinary teams. A basic understanding of how these teams function is necessary to further understand how they impact end of life care and decision making. Byock (1996) conceptualized dying as a stage of the human life cycle that inherently holds opportunities to broaden the personal experience, determine what matters most, influence the outcome for improved quality of life closure, and thus reveal new sources of hope. Utilizing this model the patient and family are encouraged to direct the team to create an end-of-life experience that is homogeneous with their values and goals for life closure.
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