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Introduction : Palliative Care Assignment
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Cultural beliefs are important considerations while providing palliative care Palliative care refers to specialized medical care for people who suffer from serious conditions. This approach does not necessarily involve any medical procedures. Rather it might include advice on lifestyle changes, suggestions for health improvement, assistance in dealing with anxiety, etc. Since this approach diverts from the traditional methods of treatment, there are certain obligations that healthcare professionals are obliged to consider before suggesting a patient go through it. The indigenous people in Australia have their separate sets of beliefs which might hamper their healthcare access and this study sheds light on those cultural beliefs.
Cultural beliefs in the Indigenous people of Australia
The contribution of the social determinants is significant (Vpsc. 2022) The aboriginal people used to live in small groups within distinct boundaries and the social interaction rules were strict. The devastating effects of colonization made the cultural environment completely overturned leading to the belief that violence and diseases were the effects of colonization. This created perspective made them overlook the potential reasons for disease occurrence. The aboriginal perspective of good health includes much more than the mere absence of diseases. Spiritual and cultural well-being are important considerations for this group of people to ensure complete health at individual and community levels. Although this perspective helps view all the perspectives of health, the agents leading to particular diseases might be overlooked. The social determinants that mostly contribute to the health gap in Australian Indigenous people include employment, qualification, income, etc.
End-of-life care perspectives in the aboriginal people
The perception of emotional well-being impacts indigenous healthcare (Gillan, Jeong & van der Riet, 2021) Considering that education is the key to awareness, the aboriginal people have been laid back in some aspects due to differences in income. Due to a lack of proper education distributed equally among the indigenous population, there is an absence of proper awareness regarding the occurrence of a disease and its treatment methods. Besides, the significantly lower employment status of the aboriginal groups than the rest of the Australian population prevents them from equal healthcare access. However, the majority of the indigenous people have refrained from alcohol use and smoking which provide them an advantage in maintaining health. A representation of mental well-being for the indigenous people is having a strong identity culture-wise.
An overview of the National Palliative Care Standards (NPCS)
There are seven standards under the “National Palliative Care Standards” which are primarily divided into two categories. The two divisions are namely Care Standards constituting standards 1 to 6 and Governance Standards constituting the rest. The delivery of high-quality care is under the consideration of the care standards while the governance standards concern the expectations related to quality management, improvement, and benchmarking. The first step of using these standards is to assess the needs followed by the development of the care plan. The care is delivered along with transitions between services. Grief support would come next in the process followed by service culture. Quality improvement and staff training are the last steps as per the last two standards of the NPCS.
Application of the NPCS in the palliative care of indigenous people
A professional in palliative care might prescribe medications or other therapies for treating the pain. However, factors like remoteness and geographic distance act as barriers to this treatment. This is due to the fact that by the time the indigenous people can reach the premises of the healthcare facility from their remote locations, the pain might turn out to be more excruciating and alter the whole treatment plan. Spiritual counseling on the other hand would include an exploration of cultural beliefs. Considering that spiritual well-being is most important for indigenous people to be declared healthy individual, this would be the most important step in this case.
The care coordination program is conducted by a social worker and refers to the process of inferring the care process to the patient and their family as per standard 3 and 6. The challenge of conducting this process in the case of indigenous people is the knowledge gap due to cultural stigmatization. The improvement of quality of life would involve making people aware of the strategies they could implement to enhance their living conditions.
Dilemmas regarding hydration and nutrition in end-of-life care of Indigenous people
The involvement of parenteral hydration in palliative care is associated with logical and ethical dilemmas that are hypersensitized in the case of indigenous people. This is due to the fact that these people believe in spiritual well-being and convincing them about the efficiency of a treatment process would require significant evidence. Most of the indigenous population refrained from substance abuse or unhealthy addictions like smoking and drinking. Hence, providing additional advice in the palliative sessions regarding the limited use of these substances would be unnecessary. However, obesity is prevalent in this population due to dietary inconsistencies, for which there needs to be appropriate nutrition education provided to this community. Besides, it needs to be considered that the obesity prevalence in this area is mostly due to a lack of healthy food instead of excessive food. Hence, the awareness programs are to be conducted empathetically such that the mentality of these people is not hurt by any means.
Quality improvement in the nutrition and hydration guidelines
Food consumption in a geographical region depends on the availability of food and for the aboriginal people; staple food mostly includes varieties of fruits. In this case, it would be futile to expect the people have access to other items. Besides, suggesting food items that misalign with the cultural backgrounds of these people would trigger mistrust in the whole palliative care process. Eating habits are a sensitive issue that needs to be dealt with systematically and each recommendation made to reduce the signs of obesity and improve health need to strictly adhere to the food that these people already consume as per standard 8. Ensuring cultural safety for the aboriginal people would require building their trust by indulging in the cultural beliefs they possess. However, the stereotypical barriers need to be avoided and people need to be educated empathetically about the absurdity of those beliefs.
Developing care pathways for hydration and nutrition in palliative care of indigenous people
Care pathways in nutrition and hydration mostly involve making people aware of their daily needs for food and water. The aboriginal people believe that a person having a clear cultural identity has mental well-being. This indicates that these people prioritize mental health and this need to be taken advantage of by the social workers. Once the belief is injected into them that physical health and mental health interlink with each other, it would be easier to incorporate the advice related to dietary consumption. However, it is necessary to avoid disrespecting the cultural identity of these people in any way in this process. Besides, the main cultural belief of these people revolves around a religious figure in most cases. Religion is a sensitive issue that has the potential to make people perform any act. This point can also be taken advantage of to indulge in the people their nutritional requirements. However, some extreme religious activities prevent the consumption of water which completely overturns the motive of the hydration awareness programs for palliative care. In such sensitive cases, the only possible step would be to suggest alternative fluids.
Both analytical and empathetic skills would matter in palliative care The history of the aboriginal people provides an idea about the reason behind their cultural beliefs differing from the rest of the Australian population. A healthcare professional or a social worker associated with palliative care requires having an overview of this history to understand the ways these could be paved through. A clear idea about the cultural beliefs of the indigenous people would provide ideas regarding strategies to improvise the nutritional and hydration care. Besides, any professional allocated with palliative care for this group of people requires mainly empathetic skills since they are sensitive. However, each step has to be performed as per the guidelines of NPCS in palliative care.
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