Seriously ill need a deeply human approach

Man by his very nature is a dialogic being who can fully realise himself only in relationship with others. This basic human need of dialogical relationship initially begins to develop and find fulfilment in relationship with the mother, then close family members, later with friends, God, life partners, etc. Deeply human approach to all needy members of the community is own to Judeo-Christian tradition. As we become increasingly aware of the psychological needs of our fellow humans, we can appreciate that the interpersonal relationships in the life of the seriously ill person have greater psychological importance than in the life of a healthy person. We need to accompany such a person, be deeply compassionate and not leave them alone in their suffering. The adoption of such a profoundly human approach will surely be of great benefit in terms of their integration, identity, autonomy, dignity and overall contentment. St. Francis de Sales in his book Introduction to the Devout Life wrote: "And to the neighbor it is not only necessary to turn with a kind word, but also with the whole heart, that is, the entire inner core of our soul." A gentle approach in a friendly spirit opens up a relationship of dialogue and trust. American psychologist A. H. Maslow created a hierarchy (pyramid) of human needs according to their importance, where the need for love and belonging is the third most important need after physiological needs and the need of safety. Signs of a real human relationship in the caring professions are respect, sincere interest in the patient and his needs, trust, aiming for the good of the other, compassion, consolation, effective assistance if needed (cf. Good Samaritan's attitude), being able to apologize, and also to forgive and being thankful. Pope Benedict XVI in his Encyclical Spe Salvi (2007) wrote: "The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society" (SS 38). Czech psychologist K. Kopriva in his book Human relationship as a part of the profession (2006) presents the results of a survey of nurses and social workers in homes for the elderly in the Czech Republic. It refers to what their priorities would be - if a member of their families was in a home for the elderly. The survey results showed that the workers in the caring professions would themselves expect in the first place affection (kindness, willingness, love, etc.), patience (also peace, serenity, etc.), empathy (also understanding, etc.) and only in the fourth place did they list expertise (including professionalism, knowledge, etc.). This author notes that the atmosphere generated by a care assistant in interaction with the client may reinforce the client but may also harm him when these truly human qualities are lacking. "The client needs to be able to trust the carer and to, feel safe and accepted. Without this relational framework, the work however efficient it may be becomes just an impersonal performance by a disinterested authority" (all on p. 15). A notable advocate of this profoundly human approach was an American psychologist and psychotherapist C. R. Rogers, who in his Person-Centered Approach saw the supreme importance of attitudinal values in communication with clients: i.e. the unconditional acceptance of the other, empathy with the other and authenticity, namely sincerity in communication with the other.