Facing up to Palliative Care

8 Apr 2018 11:16 AMJen Fitzgerald
Facing up to Palliative Care

Palliative Care is not meant to be a fun unit and is very serious in its content. It may seem complicated, but it is a crucial part of the job. Learn more.

Having just finished training in Palliative Care (PC) this week, I always find it is a difficult unit for many students to learn as it is very confronting. For many, it is their lack of experience plus our English culture does not address death openly and we treat the topic very formally and solemnly. The students are usually very quiet during the lessons and a forbidding mood takes over the classroom.

It is not meant to be a fun unit and is very serious in its content. No one wants to face up to death but it is a part of an assistant nurses job.

From an article, called Barriers to Access to Palliative Care by Pippa Hawley*, studies of palliative resources and referrals were reviewed. One study found  that patients only received 20 days of palliative care in the home or in residential care.

The article listed the barriers to accessing a specialist PC service:

• Fear of upsetting patients

• Not wanting to abandon them

• Seeing referral as an admission of failure

• Not understanding the benefits of referral

Also barriers for aged care workers may be:

• Lack of resources to refer to

• Not knowing what resources exist

• Ignorance regarding what palliative care is

• Reluctance to refer

• The reluctance of patient and/or family to be referred

So all these barriers may mean the patient/resident is not getting the end of life care they require.

What can I do as an assistant nurse?

Ensure you keep up to date with PC education. Take the Dying2learn online course, starting in May. Register here>> 

Know who are the local palliative care services and suggest the family contact them. Also look up PC on the myaged care site. 

*Source Hawley, P. (2017). Barriers to Access to Palliative Care. Palliative Care, 10. Published online 2017 Feb 20.

© DPT 2018