Advance directives refer to the methods used to communicate and document an individual’s preference with respect to life-sustaining treatment. This is done in the event that the person may become incapable of expressing these wishes personally. These directives may take two forms the instruction directive and proxy directive. It is necessary for health practitioners and particularly nurses to be conscious of the legal status of the two types of advance directives. Nurses should also be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of advance directives. Accordingly, this knowledge will be beneficial for them to create this awareness to their patients.
Among the primary goals of advance directives is to support people in the process of making decisions for them. This is also a crucial role played by nurses in healthcare. Therefore, advance directives promote the principle of self-determination. Advance care directives lower the difficulties that might be faced by caregivers such as nurses and doctors in a life-threatening situation. Advance care directives also require nurses and practitioners to communicate directly with the patient (Blais, et.al, 2011). Communication is also improved between the two entities. Consequently, nurses and other practitioners are able to follow the wishes of the client effectively.
Nurses are tasked to help clients to plan and analyze for their future treatment. Therefore, assisting clients to plan for their future treatment through advance directives might be among the primary responsibilities of nurses. Nurses enjoy a unique relationship with clients. This is because they spend time with the patient. In addition, the nurse-Patient relationship sets the basis of the care experience. The relationship also has a positive impact on patient satisfaction. A positive nurse patient relationship creates an environment that supports the reduction of anxiety and wholesome healing. Nurses therefore form a suitable system that teaches their patients on advance directives (Brother, et.al, 2005).
Nurses must first consider the beliefs and values that are associated with end-of-life decisions. Nurses should therefore reflect on these issues and the level of comfort of the patient towards them. In addition, nurses should familiarize themselves with the medical and ethical issues related to advance care directives. Nurses should also take in to consideration the socio-demographic aspects and characteristics of the patient that may ultimately influence the final decisions. The client’s nursing-care and medical status is also a primary element towards the guidance of advance directives. These considerations play a considerable role for the nurse and patient (Guido, 2010). For instance, they are essential for an elderly patient who is considering declining all treatments because he lacks family members who can provide financials support.
The nurses also enter into extensive discussions with the patients. These discussions outline the systematic organization of advance directives. They are given the options and the choices they can make. These discussions are meant to help patients clarify their beliefs, values and self-understanding in the context of the current circumstances. The nurses finally teach the clients on how to express their wishes and ideas in to a living will. The nurses also explain to them the appointment of a substitute decision-maker. In addition, the Joint Statement on Advance Directives also provides guidance directives to clients. Nurses should also employ ethical practice throughout the teaching process (Steinbock, et.al, 2003).
The medical field is continuously undergoing changes in relation to service delivery. The current issues regarding advance directives are among these changes. The nurse’s role in the process cannot be ignored. The impact of nurse involvement has also been beneficial to both the patient and their families. The outcome of the process has also seen clients undertake an informed decision towards their health. Nurses and caregivers also have a simpler and easier approach towards meeting the needs of their patients.
Blais, K., & Hayes, J. S. (2011). Professional nursing practice: Concepts and perspectives. Boston: Pearson.
Brothers, D., & Thomson Gale (Firm). (2005). Evidence-based advance directives: A study guide for nurses. Marblehead, Mass: HCPro Inc.
Guido, G. W. (2010). Legal & ethical issues in nursing. Boston: Pearson.
Steinbock, B., Arras, J., & London, A. J. (2003). Ethical issues in modern medicine. Boston: McGraw-Hill.