Caring for patients and their loved ones at the end of life is such an incredible honour. I’ve held the hand of many patients as they died, and it is unbelievably poignant. I will never forget my first death as a student nurse.
End of life care really is everyone’s business in the hospital setting. Holding a hand, making a cuppa, finding a phone charger so a loved one can make THAT call… everyone has their part to play.
Being involved with death and dying isn’t all doom and gloom. Of course there are terribly terribly sad times, more sad than I could put into words. However, I’ve had some of the best laughs in my whole life with patients and their loved ones both in the hospital and hospice setting. End of life care can be uplifting, inspirational and enriching.
Excellent communication is everything. Just everything. People rarely get upset about what is said, they get angry and let down about conversations that are NOT had. “Why did not one tell me my loved one was ‘sick enough to die’?” (this is a phrase learned from Dr Kathryn Mannix).
Palliative care is a dynamic, developing, utterly fantastic speciality and I feel very lucky to be part of it.
About Rachel King
Rachel has been a nurse for 10 years, working in surgery and intensive care before moving into palliative care. She absolutely loves working in palliative and EOLC especially in an acute hospital setting. She’s passionate about excellent communication - empowering patients and loved ones to be able to talk about their wishes.