Wellness at the End of Life - WEL Committee

WEL Committee: Wellness at the End of Life

Many patients with terminal diseases are hospitalized with acute health issues. Often, after reversible causes are treated, it becomes apparent to medical staff that their patients are dying.  These patients may not have had prior opportunities to have in-depth discussions regarding end-of-life (EOL) issues with their physicians, families or friends. Also, it becomes very difficult for patients and families to process information during this difficult time.

MedStar Georgetown’s WEL Committee is an interdisciplinary team that strives to support patients, families and medical staff in preparing for patient death. Most patients would rather die peacefully; they and often express gratitude when honestly informed of impending death and options for attenuation of discomfort.

Physicians, Nurses, Social Workers and other Palliative Care providers facilitate discussions about death and empower patients (when possible) to die ‘on their terms’ (i.e. give choice of setting, background preparation, handle closure issues) while providing support to families and loved ones, including:

  • Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and reflection (now routinely incorporated into medical school curricula) may help relieve patient suffering and improve quality of life (QOL).
  • Spirituality issues within the context of dying are explored with the patient alongside the Chaplain or other spiritual guide.
  • Literature on the dying process and preparation will be provided to patients and families; bereavement materials will be provided to families.

The ultimate goal of the committee is to change the institutional culture as it pertains to death. Our mission is to create peace at the end of life by allowing for patients and their families to make educated choices.