Nurses play a significant role in hospice/palliative care. In addition to the conventional nursing duties of observing and recording symptoms and treatments, they also provide emotional support to terminally ill patients and their families, through a series of roles.
Who a nurse is
PSYCHOLOGIST – Nurses are considered the best emotional supporters. They always guide patients through means of effective and therapeutic communication process. Whenever patients verbalize their feelings, the nurse cannot just stand by his/her own work but sits at the bedside trying to open his heart and listening with all the patient’s feelings..
GUIDANCE COUNSELOR – A dying patient conceals the need to be led always, not only from family but also from others especially to primary care provider. Nurses always guide them in terms of providing nuggets of wisdom which would at least alleviate their sufferings.
PREACHER – All patients regardless of their race have hope that need uplifting of their spiritual aspects of life. Nurses always sacrifice themselves to impart knowledge with regards to matters between life and death. This uplifts patient’s spirituality aspect with no basis of religion or beliefs.
TEACHER – Just like children, nurses act as teachers especially in giving patients information about their health conditions. Patients are taught how to handle and manage their health situations through skills that they can easily and appropriately administer by themselves.
RELATIVE– As the saying goes, ‘put yourself in other’s shoes’ nurses treat their patients as if they were their siblings, parents or close relatives. The feeling of the dying patient and the sympathy or grieving of his family is likewise the feelings of the nurse.
COMEDIAN – This role cannot be applied to all nurses but whenever a nurse has the pride to express a sense of humour, he/she becomes a comedian to the dying patient. This will at least remove or lessen patient’s anxiety and depression. Remember that laughter is a reality that sometimes heals patients.
CAREGIVER – Nurses are always regarded to be the primary care providers because in a whole shift, their role revolves around checking and seeing that everyone is in good condition. When a patient cries out of pain, the nurse responds immediately by giving any type of care to lessen the discomforts felt by patient.
TRUSTED MESSENGER – The nurse is always ready to accept any testimony from the dying patient. In the likely event that the patients feels uncomfortable to reveal secrets to their family members, the nurse is the only trusted person with every word from the patient’s mouth and this demands becomes an obligation and duty on the part of the nurse to do whatever patients wish to be done.
RESCUER – Nowadays, patients expects more immediate and emergency care from a nurse rather than a doctor due to their closeness whether at night or during the day. Doctors have a busy schedule and at times they have rush hours when they need to attend to emergencies ending up not staying beside a patient for a longer period of time. Their major role is to check the condition of the patient on that day, prescribe medications, write orders from the chart and move out of the hospital. Nurses are rescuers as they are first in line to recover a patient’s life especially during emergency cases.
MOTHER – Mothers know what is best for their children and nurses also know what is best for their patients.
How different are they from their colleagues?
These nurses have unwavering focus on end-of-life care. Palliative care includes 24-hour nursing availability to manage pain and symptoms and support to the family. By providing expert management of pain and other symptoms combined with compassionate listening and counseling skills, a palliative care nurse promotes the highest quality of life for the patient and family.
A palliative care nurse strives to achieve an understanding of specific end-of-life issues from the perspective of each patient and his/her family regardless of the setting, unlike the nurse in a health care facility whose approach is more on preventive, curative and rehabilitative. To accomplish this, nurses collaborate in a cultural assessment of the patient and family and provide culturally sensitive care.
Palliative care nursing is not only practiced at the bedside like nursing within a health care facility. Nurses, consistent with their individual educational preparation, experience and roles, promote the highest standards of end-of-life care through community and professional education, participation in demonstration grants as well as in end-of-life research. This is necessary as the society needs change and awareness of their people through public policy forums, including the legislative process.
They assists patients with hygiene and grooming, feeding them if they are unable to so themselves. They also manage anti-anxiety medicine like morphine if needed. This differentiates a nurse in a health care facility, who rarely addresses this issues and dwells more on the hospital daily routine.
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