Vanya Kovačič
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Patients’ views on the quality of life
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Chapter 5 responds to providers of care for patients with disabilities. It addresses questions about what takes place once a patient is discharged from hospital and how disabled patients live day-to-day. These issues led me to explore the notion of quality of life. Using the patients’ own definitions of quality of life, I examine how they perceive their lives today. The impact of treatment in the hospital on patients’ quality of life appears to be multidimensional. Many patients stress the immense difference the treatment made to their lives – talking about functional improvements that led to improved access to employment, for instance. Emotional relief was also reported, motivating my participants to become involved in more social interactions that, in turn, resulted in an improved sense of self-esteem and security. Improvements in the quality of life of the participants were, however, largely dependent on the participant’s own ability to adapt. Despite describing their struggle to find viable coping mechanisms, this chapter testifies to the great strength and resilience residing in each of them. It is obvious that participants do not look at their bodies purely through the lens of function. They attach a number of symbolic and social meanings to their injuries. Regardless of the role played by MSF or any other care provider, recovery is very much dependent on patient’s own agency, coping skills and creativity.

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