Show Less
Restricted access

Communicating Care at the End of Life


Carey Candrian

While health care at the end of life is changing, the language for talking about treatment options and patient preferences around the end of life is taking longer to change. This book carefully details the way language shapes decisions around end-of-life care. Using ethnographic research from two sites that offer emergency care and end-of-life care – a hospice and an emergency department – the author illustrates common themes around language use that serve as microcosms of the larger healthcare system in the United States. The sites have different purposes for providing care, yet the themes from both serve as guidance and reflection for other areas of caregiving.
The language used to talk about death holds consequences and opportunities for understanding and making decisions about care practices. This book uses personal stories and perspectives from patients, family members, and medical workers to paint a picture of some of the issues and tensions individuals and caregivers face. With an aging population – one that represents a major public health challenge in the twenty-first century – Carey Candrian argues that examining the care we provide for individuals, especially aging individuals, is fundamental to creating a developed, ethical, and engaged society.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter 7. The Concealing and Revealing Nature of Language


The last two chapters described how both the ED and hospice are experienced and understood by the providers who work there. They detailed the tension of providing humanistic care within and against institutional norms. And finally, the chapters developed three specific ways providers overcome this tension that when practiced together, ultimately tame a process that would otherwise be wild, chaotic, and uncertain. Through taming, however, providers are doing more than rehumanizing their care practices; they are actively producing meanings surrounding death that define how we can and should understand death within the ED and hospice. Therefore, the role of this chapter is twofold. First, I will describe how our understandings of death are formed through the accounts and stories of providers. Second, I will outline how in producing and defining meanings surrounding death, providers’ talk is simultaneously enabling them to smooth over the complexities of their work while at the same time, talking in a language that protects them from critical engagement.

There is an inherent tension at the ED and the hospice. On the one hand, their purposes demand that they be routine, standardized, and efficient. And on the other hand, their role is to heal and provide humanitarian care in a demanding and chaotic setting. Embedded in these contradictions, however, ← 103 | 104 → are a number of suppressed conflicts and opportunities. Therefore, rather than simply showing you how providers manage their challenges, I will describe what these practices are doing. In order to detail what providers’ talk...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.