Speech-language pathologists work to
prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication,
cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults. Their
job descriptions can range from an educator to a healthcare physician. Many
speech-language pathologists working in health care will sooner or later come
across a patient nearing the end of life. These patients introduce complex
clinical and ethical issues around feeding and communication that impact the
role of the speech language pathologists ( Asg 1). They are important members
of the health care team and make great contributions to the care of patients
nearing end of life.
Speech language pathologists may
receive referrals to help consult with teams who have patents with a severe and
deadly disease. Palliative care focuses on the prevention or relief of
suffering to maximize quality of life for these patients and their families.
This article describes how the role of the Speech language pathologist in
palliative care services differ from more traditional rehabilitation roles. “Case
examples illustrate how Speech Language Pathologists interact within an
end-of-life care team, highlighting the importance of effective
interprofessional communication, which is when health providers/students
communicate with each other, with people and their families, and with the
community in an open, collaborative and responsible manner.”(Pollens 137) Emphasis
is placed on identifying and controlling symptoms that happened after the illness.
There is a common misunderstanding that palliative care is focused only on
symptom relief for people who are dying, but this type of care can be chosen by
any individual with a weakening illness. For example this kind of care can be
started before the end stages of the illness, not when the patient is dying.
There are many complexities when
dealing with patients reaching the end of their life. When patients reach end
of life their autonomy, freedom from external control or influence, should be
put first and protect them from harm. ” Factors that impede clinicians
abilities to provide a range of options for the disabled person and their
surrogates range from extreme positions of pity for life imagined plight of the
disabled patient to reservations about changing course to palliation because of
fear of criticism from a multitude of legal and political sources; these
factors can immobilize the clinicians sense of agency to support and facilitate
decision making and to care effectively for persons with disabilities at the
end of life.”(Robinson 54).