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J Palliat Med. 2004 Oct;7(5):694-702.

Role of the speech-language pathologist in palliative hospice care.

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Western Michigan University, Dept. of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Charles Van Riper Language, Speech and Hearing Clinic, Clinical Instructor, Speech-Language Pathologist, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008-5355, USA.


In reviewing the literature, there are few articles describing the role of the speech-language pathologist in hospice. Communication impairments can impact upon the hospice team's ability to provide symptom control and supportive psychosocial care, and diminish the patient's ability to guide the decision making process and maintain social closeness with family. Swallowing difficulties may result in discomfort for patients and concern from caregivers. Patient care provided by the speech-language pathologist can align with the framework of the World Health Organization's components of palliative care. Four primary roles of the speech-language pathologist in hospice can be described. (1) To provide consultation to patients, families, and members of the hospice team in the areas of communication, cognition, and swallowing function; (2) To develop strategies in the area of communication skills in order to support the patient's role in decision making, to maintain social closeness, and to assist the client in fulfillment of end-of-life goals; (3) To assist in optimizing function related to dysphagia symptoms in order to improve patient comfort and eating satisfaction, and promote positive feeding interactions for family members and (4) To communicate with members of the interdisciplinary hospice team, to provide and receive input related to overall patient care. Further development of the speech-language pathologist as a participating member of the hospice interdisciplinary team would support the overall goal of providing quality care for patients and families served by hospice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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