The ”la Caixa” Foundation has provided emotional support to 56,730 people in end-of-life and mourning processes

He ”La Caixa” Foundation Program for Comprehensive Care for People with Advanced Diseases was born in 2009 as a pioneer program in emotional and spiritual care in palliative care, end-of-life processes and grief, and since then it has treated 204,665 patients and 276,748 family members.

Emotional and spiritual care in times of pandemic 2020 has been until now, since the beginning of the program in 2009, the most intense experienced by the professionals of the 44 EAPS (Psychosocial Care Teams) that currently operate in 132 hospitals throughout Spain and 133 home support units.

The EAPS are made up of 230 psychologists, social workers, nurses, doctors, pastoral workers, and more than 1,000 volunteers. Care at the end of life and grief in extreme circumstances such as those that have occurred as a result of the pandemic, has also been the object of work by the professionals of the program who have had to intensely increase their efforts to maintain their care work in conditions as complicated as those that have been generated in the hospital setting.

Under these circumstances EAPS have increased their work accompanying not only people who were in a situation of end of life, but also people seriously affected by the COVID virus, their families and the professionals who cared for them. From the beginning of January 2020 to the end of December, the EAPS have treated a total of 56,730 people: 24,894 patients, 1,161 of whom affected by COVID-19, and 31,836 relatives, 1,874 of which linked to patients with the virus.

The harsh months of the pandemic have made a taboo subject like death more visible to society as a whole. This is confirmed by Montserrat Esquerda, director of the Institut Borja de Bioètica and collaborator of the program: “The pandemic has brought us many deaths, unprepared deaths and unexpected deaths. Now we can say that we are more prepared than before the pandemic to talk about death and the work that is done in palliative care units”.

Veronica Linares, a psychologist at the EAPS in Tarragona, provides her vision after what she experienced during the crisis: “One of the things that we have detected is the need to offer comprehensive care for the sick. The body and health are cared for, and it is a challenge to move to a more psychosocial paradigm. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of this type of care and that the psychologist has a greater presence in the health system and can carry out this monitoring psychological, spiritual and relational. Until now we have been working with the dualism between body and soul but we are already living a moment in which we can integrate both parts and treat them as a whole ”.

In this sense, the work of the EAPS has also had more visibility and appreciation in the social and health field, generating some transformations in the forms of accompaniment such as the use of online formats to attend at a distance; the promotion of new initiatives to cover emergencies and new realities, and also in the collaboration model with healthcare professionals, enhancing its total integration in the teams. Accompanying people until the last moment.

The Program for Comprehensive Care for People with Advanced Diseases, framed in the Palliative Care Strategy of the National Health System, provides people with end-of-life situations and their families with warm and personalized care that complements the work that the units of palliative care performed in hospitals and homes.

Its purpose is to achieve comprehensive care based on meeting the emotional, social and spiritual needs of the person in their environment, and supporting the professionals who accompany them. The scientific evaluation of the program concludes that the psychosocial care offered responds to the needs and improves by 90% the symptoms caused by the disease and that harm the mental and psychological state of the patients treated.

The study states that 92% of sick people qualify as excellent or very good the care received, and c90% erca They ensure that they have been able to resolve difficult issues (most of them, communication and relationship with the family and the environment) thanks to this support.