SUPPORTING FAMILIES WHEN TREATMENT IS WITHDRAWN FROM NEONATES
PARENTAL VIEWS ON THE ROLE OF THE CHAPLAIN
Keywords:Neonatal care, withdrawal of treatment, decision making, support, chaplaincy, qualitative research
Recent in-depth interviews with 108 parents for whose babies there was discussion about treatment withholding/withdrawal, have revealed that whilst the decision itself is seen to be in the medical domain, chaplains can provide valuable support and confirmation. Their reassurance about the morality of what is being done and about the trustworthiness of the medical team is appreciated. They can help parents to gain a sense of control, and offer comfort and ongoing recognition of their loss and grief. Where he has known the child and shared the distress of the parents, the chaplain has a strong advantage when it comes to tailoring the christening/blessing and burial/cremation services to suit the family’s beliefs and preferences. A powerful source of solace which influences parents’ thinking about treatment withdrawal derives from a belief in an afterlife and/or a divine plan. However, many parents are grateful when chaplains avoid references to God.
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