The Roles of Nurses in End-of-Life Care
Death is an emotional and a rather dreaded experience. Often, people are not prepared for the death of a loved one, despite the knowledge death is bound to happen. For example, the terminally ill patients and their families are usually aware that death is imminent. However, human beings find it hard to let go of a loved one and are ready to do everything to stop the death (Elçigil, 2012). The near death period is social and psychologically draining time, to both the patient and his or her family. While some patients spend their last moments of life in hospitals and under expensive ICU care, most terminally ill patients are often withdrawn from an aggressive curative care to palliative care. The palliative care may be given either at homes or in the health facility. Irrespective of the settings of the palliative care, the service is an essential nursing care as it prepares patients and their families for an imminent death. The palliative care nurses play a central role in the end-of-life care as they help the patient’s family cope with the death experiences. This essay explains some of the roles played by a palliative nurse in an end-of-life care.
One of the primary roles of the nurses at the end-of-life care is to administer the pain management intervention. Usually, patients at the end-of-life stages are out of the treatment programs. They include terminally ill individuals whose illnesses are not responding to curative therapies. The medics’ efforts to help them heal are no longer necessary. The only care needed reprieve these patients of the agony of pain to allow them go through a peaceful dying process. As Krikorian, Limonero and Maté (2012), explain, the pain and distress experienced by a patient also affect their loved ones as they sympathize with them. However, palliative nurses administer appropriate pain management care. Relieving the pain experienced by the terminally ill individuals does not only restore the piece to the patient but also to the entire family.
Secondly, palliative nurses offer the psychological and emotional support that is so much needed during the end-of-life process. As Krikorian et al. (2012), elaborate, patients undergoturmoil of mental disturbance. They tend to feel useless and consider themselves a burden to everybody else. However, palliative nurses help them understand and accept their situation through intensive guidance and counseling. Additionally, palliative nurses counsel the family of the patient, helping them to prepare for the oncoming death. According to Krikorian et al. (2012), watching a loved one suffers is an emotional moment. More so, knowing that they will eventually die is unfathomable. However, patients’ family ought to remain stable and support the dying relative. Thus, palliative nurses counsel the family and guide them on how they can be of assistance to the patient.
Another important role of a palliative nurse is to collaborate with the rest of the caregivers so as to ensure that the patient receives the best and only necessary care. The end-of-life care involves a joint effort of various professional and nonprofessional personnel. For instance, it may include the pharmacists, occupational therapist, nutritionists, family members, spiritual leaders, among others. Each of these groups takes a distinct position in the care program. However, nurses assess and advise the extent of care required from of each of these participants so as to advise accordingly. For instance, the nutritionist’s guide may not be necessary when an individual is in their last stages of the dying process. However, it is the role of the nurse to examine the patient and inform the family about the stage-to-stage progression. Therefore, the palliative nurse organizes the rest of the caregivers to ensure that the dying patient receives what they need when they need it (Sheehan & Potter, 2011).
In conclusion, palliative care nurses play an essential role in the end-of-life care. They help the patients and their loved ones to admit death as it is inevitable. They do not only contribute to alleviating the patient’s suffering, but also provides them their family with the necessary psychological support. They also serve as team leaders, guiding the rest of the caregivers in the palliative care program.
Elçigil, A. (2012). Palliative care nursing.Gulhane Medical Journal, 54(4), 329-334.Retrieved from http://www.scopemed.org/?mno=30582
Krikorian, A., Limonero, J. T., &Maté, J. (2012). Suffering and distress at the end‐of‐life. Psycho‐Oncology, 21(8), 799-808.Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pon.2087/abstract;jsessionid=402450760E1032F7B20954788976DCCC.f04t01?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false
Sheehan, C., & Potter, M. (2011).Palliative Care Nursing.London: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.