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Needing to stay on the job - even toward the end of life

Author: Anna Manzoney
18 August 2015
  • Brunel University's Dr Gail Eva will speak on reinforcing the personal identity of people with life-limiting illness at Palliative Care Australia's national conference in Melbourne next month

Dr Gail Eva, from London’s Brunel University says that health professionals who encourage people with a life-limiting illness not to return to work may not be doing the best by their patients.

Dr Eva said that work has many psychological and social benefits that can have a significant impact on patients’ sense of wellbeing, and there are dangers in making assumptions about the role it plays in terminally ill patients’ lives.

“Many health professionals think they are being kind and supportive when they encourage people to opt out of work, but some work environments may have a very positive impact on patients’ mental and physical health,” she said.

Dr Eva is a speaker at the largest gathering of palliative care professionals in Australia - Palliative Care Australia’s upcoming 13th Australian Palliative Care Conference in September - where she will discuss the importance of reinforcing the personal identity of someone with life-limiting illness.

"This is an often overlooked factor that can significantly affect quality of life.

“It is often exacerbated when people start relating to them as the person who has a terminal illness, rather than the golfer, or the guy who likes camping, or the woman who is a magnificent gardener,” Dr Eva said.

She stressed that while we can’t magic up increased physical ability, we can help people hold on to the idea they have of themselves.

The conference has already attracted more than 700 delegates.

See more articles in Research

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