by Cindy Longanacre, RN, CHPN, Hospice of Chickasha
Hope is a feeling that assists in supporting a dying patient’s sense of wholeness and well-being. Healing is fostered by the patient’s ability to maintain hope. Healing may not be physical but may instead refer to the patient’s ability to accept their current circumstance and continue to live and grow in spite of it. In other words, healing may affirm the person’s humanity. Hope evolves over time as the patient’s disease progresses and goals change. Maintaining hope is an important component to spiritual care of the patient. To do less would be to not treat the whole person.
False hope, on the other hand, can cause great harm. Because vital information is withheld, the person cannot give fully informed consent. Focusing only on hope may leave patients unaware of their limited prognosis. Patients cannot be expected to make good decisions for themselves if they do not have adequate information.