Caring for Terminal Patients – A Nurse’s Checklist

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Unarguably, nurses are the most underappreciated heroes of any society. They play a significant role in the well-being of any patient. Notably, patients suffering from terminal illnesses have a special relationship with nurses. Nurses are obligated to facilitate that person’s wish and take care of them at that sensitive stage of their lives. The goal of nursing for terminal pressure is to ensure proper care with dignity and 100% attention.

Dying is a long and different process for each individual. Every person with a terminal illness is moving towards death and going to have his own experience of it. However, nurses can’t ensure that the end will occur smoothly; but deal accordingly. The only essential thing nurses can do at this hour is to take care of the dying patient. While they also help their families during this challenging time.

Specifically, during the imminent phase, nurses have to work twice as hard. This phase starts with unconsciousness and leads to death — the most troublesome phase. A nurse’s care doesn’t only belong to the patient anymore; it will somehow also affect the last memories of the patient with their loved ones.

Nurses play a vital role in a patient’s life, so they must perform assessments, rapid responses to even minor changes, and provide appropriately scheduled medication. There are several things that a nurse should keep in mind while planning out strategies for patient, and they are mentioned below:

Proper Education:

Not every nurse can work with terminally ill patients — it requires extra education than just a degree in nursing. From an educational standpoint, many medical schools are working towards introducing a terminal degree in nursing, a focused curriculum on dying and death. Although the current nursing curriculum lacks end-of-life care education, institutes need to teach more courses in this particular area. Proper end-of-life care education with case studies and readings should be on the top of any nurse’s strategies checklist.

Hands-On Care of the Patient:

Taking proper care of the patient is the most obvious point in any nurse’s checklist. However, for terminal patients’ care, nurses need to provide hands-on care, such as emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual support. The person in care might be a regular patient for nurses, but he/she is an individual who must be feeling confused, overwhelmed, and worried.

Nurses must ensure that patients stay pain-free, calm, and comfortable with the extra care. Home nursing for terminal patients comes with many additional duties for nurses; they have to take extra care of patients. As they become the sole medical care for them, they have to work twice to ensure everything is under control. That brings us to our next point.

Treatment of Pain Symptoms:

Managing and treating the pain symptoms is the next most important section of the nurse’s checklist. Mostly, terminal patients opt for home nursing. It means physicians aren’t available to help them all the time. So, nurses are responsible for dealing with pain and implementing strategies to reduce the discomfort of the patients. It includes managing pain with relief medications prescribed by the patient’s physician.

Nurses must offer them comforting solutions and tools in case of skin problems, applying creams and lotions. Nurses should keep in mind that while taking direct care that they also have to maintain dignity and allow patients to control decisions.

Elaborated Guidance:

Alongside many other things, guiding the patients and family about disease and death is the primary thing nurses have to do. They help patients in dealing and understanding their illnesses and provide in-depth knowledge to the family for emergencies. Specifically, for home nursing, educating the family helps them stay calm and be supportive throughout the process.

No matter how long the family has to deal with the patient, it never gets easier. With proper guidelines and instructions, nurses can help them understand better and even adjust their lives accordingly. Having a nurse who educates them every minute can be very helpful for the patients and families.

 

Effective Communication:

Strong communication skills are the foundation of every occupation, but nurses require more vital communication skills than anyone else. To support the point mentioned above, every nurse has to constantly guide and masterfully exchange information with the patient and the family, which can be a disaster without proper communication skills.

Nurses dealing with terminal patients need to be concise yet sensitive towards their patients. Approach every individual in a personalized manner should be a priority — it will help them understand the patient better. Alongside all the professional talk, nurses must be ready and be considerate for dealing with personal matters.

Nurses often help patients and encourage them to express their emotions and feelings to them — it is all part of the care. Moreover, nurses might need to provide them with extra communicational support for patients who can’t communicate.

Emotional Support:

Being there round-the-clock for patients creates a bond between patients and nurses. Emotional support becomes a hidden point in a nurse’s duties. Nurses understand the helplessness of the patient and the family, which leads them to be compassionate about them.

They can emotionally support both of them by listening to their feelings and letting them open up. Usually, patients feel comfortable around nurses because they help make communication easier without feeling embarrassed. It helps them feel better and emotionally connected to the nurse.

After-Death Period:

Unfortunately, even after the death of patients, there are a few things that nurses are supposed to do; a physical examination of patients to confirm death and then recording the date, time, and cause in the medical documents.

Nurses also have to play an essential role in showing empathy to the family. They should let the family say a proper goodbye to the patient. Furthermore, sometimes deaths can emotionally affect nurses, as they constantly contact the dying person.

Conclusion:

Dealing with constant deaths might affect the mental health of nurses, the best way to avoid this is taking end-of-life care classes. Nurses need to balance their professional lives while feeling vulnerable towards death.

They should keep everything from communicating to managing pain under control and being open to complaints and suggestions because they will only help perform their duties better. Also, to keep thriving in their field, nurses should pursue higher education to take on more challenging roles and cement their importance in the healthcare industry.

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