Palliative Care

11 Jul 2015 10:19 AMLicensee Person
Palliative Care

Students often dread the unit Palliative Care as it may bring up many sad experiences. This article provides a positive approach to death. Learn more.

Students often dread the unit Palliative Care as it may bring up many sad experiences and some students are teary by the end of the day. For actor Woody Allan is was a no brainer. he said ” I am not afraid of death, I just don't want to be there when it happens.”

However, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of the Palliative care approach is anything but sad.

"an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual".

Sounds very positive and should be for all health professionals and students alike. It is natural for students to get upset and seasoned nurses may shed a tear too but it is our culture and background that determines our attitude to death.

Many non-English cultures have rituals and ceremonies that can go on for days and allow time for all the family and friends to be involved. In the Cook Islands the body is not left alone till he/she is buried and in Italy widowers wear black for the rest of their life.

There are many discussion websites and Facebook pages on this topic. One is the worldwide organization is Death Café. ‘Our objective is 'to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives'. They have many articles from all sides many touching and many funny. Read this one for a laugh >>

Another lovely article is about a dying woman’s wishes to have a birthday cake with 87 candles in her final days that was close to her actual birth date. Read here>>

For students the unit prepares them for working with Palliative residents/clients which in aged care is a majority. We don’t want to think about it like that but it is true. It is our job to adhere to the WHO definition and ‘improve’ the quality of life. Isn’t that what all great nurses do?