Tips For Caring For an Engineer At End-Of-Life

By Lisa Pahl, LCSW 

We live in a part of Los Angeles where the top Aerospace companies are located.

This means that the hospice provider that I work for has a great deal of engineers as patients and as family members.

While every person is unique and special in life, they are in death as well.

And, also, there are typically some commonalities that are important to keep in mind when working with engineers.

When a person comes onto hospice, the entire medical system that they are used to is flipped on its head. We often speak in generalities. Comfort-focused care can feel anxiety- producing when an individual is used to very pragmatic and specific care.

It should be noted that these suggestions may be helpful for all patients, not just engineers. But, they are especially important for engineers.


Expect High Levels of Organization

Engineer patients and their families will typically have spreadsheets or phone apps keeping track of daily vitals and other health indicators. Recognize that this is important to the patient and will likely continue while receiving hospice/palliative care services. 


Problem-Solving is a Priority

It's common to walk into the home of an engineer and find that there have been some ingenuity applied to resolving an issue. Homemade mobility equipment is common-place. Be considerate if you have concerns about safety standards and recognize the creativity and resourcefulness that's been applied. 


Details. Details. Details.

The typical model for End-of-Life-Care often focuses on symptom management without a great deal of information/education on the mechanisms within the disease that may be at play. Expect to give more details as to the WHY.


Always State Your Purpose and What You Will Do

This should always be the case in end-of-life care, but it is really important when working with engineers. Be specific about what the visit will entail and why you are there. This is especially true of the psychosocial team. Be prepared to state the actionable items that you can provide. 


Be Very Clear and Specific in Directions Provided

Engineers typically have built a career around giving clear and specific directions. It can feel very frustrating to an engineer at end-of-life when general or vague instructions are provided. Be sure that all healthcare providers are as specific as possible. 


Honor and Appreciate the Individual Exactly as They Are

People die as they lived. As end-of-life professionals, we are given the privilege to walk alongside individuals during their final stage of life. We are the last medical professions that they will ever encounter. It's on us to provide care for each person with the utmost respect and dignity. 

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