A local hospice organization urged the public yesterday — on the eve of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day — to sign consent forms indicating their willingness to use hospice care services in times of need.
Not only would this allow terminally ill patients to express how they want to live, but it would also save family members the difficulty of making decisions for their loved ones when the time comes, the Taiwan Hospice Organization said.
After signing the form, the person’s national health card will be marked with “do not resuscitate” (DNR), said Chen Hong-wen (陳虹汶), the organization’s board director.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
In the event of an emergency situation, hospice staff would not perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a patient, but instead opt for other medical treatments that help alleviate pain and improve quality of life, she said.
“Hospice care does not mean giving up on life or that death is imminent,” she added.
Chen said that instead of what she described as “useless” medical treatment, hospice care provides severely ill patients with holistic care, including physical and spiritual healing.
The husband of Chen Feng-yin (陳鳳鸚), a woman who chose to enter a hospice ward after suffering from a series of complications resulting from terminal lung cancer, said at the press conference: “Why not let her leave this world happily when the time comes?”
In a video clip made before her death last month, Chen said: “When I signed the consent form, I wanted my family to respect my choice.”
“Because of hospice care, I can leave the world smiling,” she said in the video, which showed her engaging in various aromatherapy sessions and music therapy at the hospice.
Taiwan has come a long way in promoting hospice care, said Shih Chung-liang (石崇良), director of the Department of Health’s Bureau of Medical Affairs. He said the government started educating the public about palliative nursing as early as 2006 and it ranked top in Asia’s end-of-life care in a recent international study.
However, while 78.7 percent of 515 family respondents to a survey conducted earlier this year said they had heard of hospice care, only 57.3 percent of 539 patient respondents said they were aware of the program.
The figures demonstrate the need for patients to understand more about the choices they have regarding different types of medical treatments, Shih said.
For that reason, the organization is inviting the public to experience hospice care today free of charge. Specialists will be present to offer consultations and consent forms will be available.
As of the end of last month, there were 87,000 people in the country who had their health insurance cards marked with the choice of hospice treatment, most of whom are aged between 50 and 59.
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