(Kagawa-Singer, M., & Backhall, L. (2001))
Barbara A. Koening and Jan Gates-Williams also warn against the dangers of stereotyping. One the social worker got enough information about the personal life of a patient, she will carefully analyze and refrain from making assumptions based on what the majority of similar situations might suggest. Comparing is only good when in tandem with contrasting in a social worker's line of work. The authors emphasize that studies, research results, statistics are useful tools for a social worker as long as he or she keeps in mind that the persons she is talking to are individual human beings dealing with facing extreme situations. Anyhow, the views of the two may essentially differ in what concerns placing Mr. Fahza in hospice, at home. The son may have various reasons for not willing to have his father die at home. It is important to try to find out why the son insists on his father staying in the hospital. Apart from the possibility of denying his father is actually dying, there could be other reasons that lead him to insist on his father staying in the hospital, even if it means being treated with chemotherapy for cancer. The social worker needs to be aware of the differences of opinions between the two, if there are any and try to find the best possible solution for the patient.
In the case of Mr. Fahza, I would try to empathize with him by showing not only that I pay attention and make serious and sustained efforts to understand his position, but that I am also aware of how important discussing about his own end of life is for him. From a religious point-of-view Muslims are encouraged to prepare for the after life continuously. The moment of death becomes of crucial importance to them. In the case that Mr. Fahza has turned his face away from religion at the last moment, this could be easily spotted even to an untrained eye. Depending on his attitude towards death, I will make my decision on how to tackle the next step: his consent for being put on hospice at home. From my point-of-view, this would be the most dignifying, less painful way to die for any human being. But, since it is not me who is dying, I will take into consideration his mental state and his willingness to confront death at home instead of intubated on a hospital bed.
My strategy would be to find out first what role does the Muslim religion play both in Mr. Fahza's and his son's life. It is also important to find out about their family's dynamics, in order to know who the decision maker is in their family. After having built a trustful relationship with the patient and have let him start talking about his situation, I would assure him that what he feels is absolutely normal. Body language and facial expressions are important, too.
I will show my compassion along with understanding, keeping professional at the same time. I will be careful in case he reminds e of a similar situation with my grandfather, so that the decision-making I will encourage his to make does not suffer from my identifying him with a close relative, thus become subjective. My emotional involvement should be kept at the level of a human being empathizing with another human being in his suffering.
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Koenig B.A., Gates-Williams J. (1995) "Understanding cultural difference in caring for dying patients." West J. Med. Sep 1995; 163(3): 244 -- 249. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1303047/?page=4
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Rizvi, Sayyid Muhammad. What You Should Do Just Before Death. Islam.org. Available at: http://www.al-islam.org/articles/what-you-should-do-just-before-death-sayyid-muhammad-rizvi
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