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Dealing with Death in Public Health Facilities

How Death Is Handled

The Hospice Palliative Care Association (HPCA) was contacted to give input into a feature article on how deaths that occur in public health facilities can be better handled. HPCA’s Advocacy Manager responded that the Covid-19 pandemic should refocus attention on building stronger interdisciplinary frameworks to support patients and families through dying, death, and bereavement. It also should remind us of the importance of the basics of respect and dignity. “When you build interdisciplinary teams then there’s a referral system, it’s not expecting doctors and nurses or hospitals to be doing bereavement counselling but it’s about working with social workers, psychologists, religious leaders, and other community-based support structures,” Meinert says. “The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that all healthcare workers should receive basic training in palliative care but this has not been implemented in undergraduate curricula countrywide so doctors and nurses find themselves ill-equipped and poorly supported to deal with the complex communication tasks and ethical dilemmas that the pandemic required them to engage with,” Meinert continues. They are also not “nice to haves”, she adds because palliative care is national policy and also a requirement of the WHO. The full article is available at How death is handled in health facilities: Can we do be… (dailymaverick.co.za)

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