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Roles and responsibilities of the healthcare team

It is important that the healthcare team speak with a unified voice and sense of purpose under any circumstances, but particularly so where EOL care is concerned. Each member of the healthcare team should have defined caregiving and client-support responsibilities, preferably ones that utilize individual skills, strengths, and experience. All team members should be trained to identify signs of compassion fatigue in themselves, staff, and family caregivers.

Veterinarian

  • Develops medical and educational protocols for staff
  • Designs specialized training for medical caregivers (technicians and family members)
  • Advises and enrolls patients in EOL program
  • Develops specific care plan for patient
  • Designs communication plan among all caregivers
  • Oversees implementation of care administered to patient
  • Provides options and support for determining the final stage (euthanasia vs. hospice-supported natural death) and afterlife resources

Practice Manager

  • Implements the educational and training programs for healthcare providers
  • Creates a network of hospice professionals to support the staff and caregivers, including social workers, grief/bereavement counselors, psychologists, spiritual counselors, and community volunteers
  • Markets EOL care to clients and the community
  • Works with the veterinarian to alert staff to an EOL case being initiated
  • Monitors for signs of compassion fatigue of self, staff, and family caregivers

Technician

  • Provides supportive care for EOL patients and their families
  • Participates in or leads home visits, provides quality of life and environmental assessments, manages clinical signs in home setting under the supervision of the veterinarian
  • Bathes, grooms, provides stimulation and massage of the patient
  • May provide time off for the primary caregiver
  • Maintains supplies/inventory within the home and veterinary hospital for EOL care

Reception and other client-service personnel

  • Schedules and coordinates care among patient/family and veterinary team members
  • Alerts staff when an in-hospital euthanasia has been scheduled
  • Creates a compassionate environment for the client and pet upon arrival to the hospital
  • Ensures all follow-up communication (sympathy card, memorial donation, phone call, changing pet’s status to deceased in the medical record, etc.) after the EOL event has been completed