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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.
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Series Editor’s Preface


Communicating Care at the End of Life is a very personal and most revealing exploration of the communication dynamics that influence the dying process, based on the author’s extensive personal experiences in both hospital emergency departments and in hospices. The author, Carey Candrian, explores what it takes to die well, to have a good death, examining the communication factors that lead to a comfortable, dignified, and satisfying death for all participants. She also analyzes the communication processes used to make sense of death. There are many lessons to be learned from this book that can help guide effective communication at the end of life.

The book raises a number of important and complex questions about how we can use strategic and sensitive communication to help demystify and soften the challenges experienced when working through the dying process. For example, what are the unique communication needs of individuals who are confronting the end of their lives? How can we help these individuals create a sense of meaning and control over this unfamiliar process of transitioning from living to dying. What can be done to support family members and friends as they prepare for the deaths of their loved ones? What can health care providers do to promote a good death, while meeting their own personal uncertainties and concerns about death and dying? How can we design health care ← ix | x → systems, policies, practices, and communication technologies to support the key stakeholders during the dying process? Carey Candrian addresses these...

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