Patients know themselves best and almost always the family or primary care giver have insights about the patient that no member of the medical team will have. As clinicians we need to listen as much, or more, than we speak.
End of life care is somewhat like raising a child, if you liken it to the phrase 'it takes a village to raise a child'. A supportive, multi-disciplinary team is vital to meet patients’ diverse end of life needs and wishes.
The primary care giver or family of the patient need opportunities to talk through what they are feeling. They need to be encouraged to recognise and prioritise their own self care needs as their loved one approaches end of life. Being a palliative primary caregiver is exhausting.
Sudden end of life diagnoses can leave a family in shock and chaos. An expert team of calm, experienced and empathic clinicians is needed to contain the distress and give reassurance especially around pain control.
Some people accept their palliative diagnosis, others find it almost impossible to, and live with denial to the end. Everyone copes differently. As a palliative support worker, my role is to sit with the patients true feelings and honour them.
About Claire Alison Hams
Claire is a Palliative Care Support Worker in the NHS, working alongside a team of Community District Nurses in Surrey. She supports patients and their families both practically and emotionally, as they approach end of life. She is also a qualified Counsellor, seeing clients in a low cost agency in Croydon and in her Private Practice in London and Surrey. You can follow her on Instagram and on Twitter.