A good chaplain friend from Nebraska has sought our help and I intend to provide some from my perspective.
He asked in part, “Is it right to initiate an end of life planning discussion with a person whether or not the person has indicated a desire to talk of such matters?”
Now, I’ve never been a chaplain, nor have I been lying as a patient in a hospital bed in recent history. But my admiration for what it means to be a chaplain in a healthcare institution leads me to opine that chaplains could ask almost anything and I would treat the question respectfully—maybe not answer it, but I would presume his/her right to ask it.
So let’s talk specifically about advance directives. In the admissions process, the patient has been asked if he/she has one. Whether the answer is yes or no, the chaplain not only has the privilege but the obligation to follow up on the patient’s answer.
Patients from 18-88 (and beyond) need to have this discussion, and who better than an unhurried chaplain. So I argue that beneficience obliges the chaplain to open the discussion, thus contributing to the patient’s welfare.
Labels: advance directives, aging and end of life, hospital chaplains