A good model for caring for terminally ill patients

Assisi hospice's empathy in granting the wishes of terminally ill patients is an act which I hope more hospices will follow (Beer, durian, cigarettes? All fine for the terminally ill; May 15).

Granting the wishes of these patients does not necessarily mean giving in to indulgences like beer or cigarettes.

What matters most is that the patients are given the opportunity to express their unfulfilled desires and wishes.

Often, patients' wishes are unknown or ignored.

Many terminally ill patients feel powerless, so their loved ones should offer reassurances that their wishes are being honoured.

This can bring them a sense of peace and acceptance.

It is natural for some, when they realise they don't have long to live, to feel an urgent need to focus on the quality of their remaining days.

Good quality of life in their last days is what people on their death beds are looking for.

For this to happen, Singapore needs more palliative care specialists and hospices and more funds for these programmes.

It is about giving patients control. They do not want to be remembered just as a person with a terminal illness. It is about dying with dignity.

Honest and open conversations with the dying should be part of modern medicine.

We also need to make hospice care more integrated with mainstream medicine, and help people understand that there is a better model for caring for people at the end of their lives.

A good death is just the end of a good life.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2017, with the headline 'A good model for caring for terminally ill patients'. Print Edition | Subscribe