Trauma affects everyone at some point during the course of a lifetime.
At the end of a person’s life, there are increased feelings of vulnerability, unknowns, and pain– especially when faced with chronic illness and other stressors. During this time, trauma can resurface or is created anew for both patients and loved ones. Unresolved trauma and PTSD can appear for the first time, triggered by physical changes, grief and loss of a loved one, or losing previously-maintained control and independence, among others.
According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), “A history of psychological trauma can make managing the symptoms of end-of-life more challenging, as trauma history is associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and higher levels of chronic pain.”
Team members at Hospice of the Northwest provides trauma-informed care for patients and families at the end of life. Leanna Anderson, MSW, LICW, APHSW-C is the Clinical Manager of Counseling Services and Integrative Therapies at Hospice of the Northwest and is a national leading expert of trauma-informed care and is helping to raise awareness through education. Thanks to donors, staff and volunteers at Hospice of the Northwest receive high-quality educational opportunities each year.
“We will be launching our Trauma Champion Workgroup in February. All departments and services will be represented. Our primary goal is to prevent the re-traumatization of patients, their circles of support and our employees,” Leanna explains.
Trauma-Informed Care Principles
1. Safety 2. Trustworthiness 3. Choice
4. Collaboration 5. Empowerment
Just as every patient is unique in their life experiences, the same applies to their experiences and ways of coping with trauma. For one patient, it can be compassionate listening that brings care, recognition, and attention to a story that has never been shared before. For another, it could be the way their nurse provides compassionate medical treatment with intention and awareness of the patient’s past history and symptoms of trauma.
Currently, many patients cared for by Hospice of the Northwest are Veterans who can have complicated trauma histories stemming from their military service. The We Honor Veterans Program at Hospice of the Northwest provides an avenue for recognition of their service and honoring their sacrifice, and trauma-informed care can address the inner or outward struggles that military veteran patients experience.
Soon, every member of the Hospice of the Northwest care team, from volunteer to physician, will receive comprehensive trauma-informed care training that benefits each patient that they care for. Thanks to the generosity of donors, specialty educational opportunities and trainings are available to hospice staff who are providing high-quality end of life care in our community.