Palliative care is about the whole person, ‘not just a test result’

Mount Druitt Palliative and Supportive Care patient’s wife Heather Russel speaks with registered nurse Susan Ide.

Palliative care is more about living well than only about dying well.

That’s according to Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Palliative and Supportive Care director Dr Sally Greenaway, in an encouragement to her fellow health professionals for National Palliative Care Week (24-30 May).

“Having some palliative care skills and knowing where to go for help when things get complex is essentialfor all of us who look after patients with incurable diseases,” Dr Greenaway said.

“How do we deliver this type of care? It means we need to be caring for the whole person, not just an organ or a test result.

“Knowing the patient is critical to providing good health care – and palliative care is no different. We need to understand what is important to them at this stage of their life. What does a good day look like to them, and how can we help them have more good days than bad?”

Providing holistic care to the patient as well as their family is what inspired Susan Ide to transition to Mount Druitt Hospital’s palliative and supportive care unit after more than 30 years in the cardiology ward.

“Nursing for palliative care patients is a privilege,” Susan said. “I’ve worked in the palliative care unit for more than six years and the passion and care is the same as when I was nursing in cardiology, but the emphasis is usually on end of life care: focusing more on their comfort, dignity and the involvement of families.

“It’s rewarding when we build trust and rapport with patients and their families which helps them through a very difficult time.”

Not all patients in the unit need end of life care – some return home after having their symptoms managed, such as infections, pain or nausea.

“Our team works towards the individual patients’ goals of care and assisting their carers, especially if they wish to remain at home during their final days,” Susan said.

“It’s great to work with such a caring and supportive team who provide and promote exceptional and holistic palliative care to our communities.”

For more information on WSLHD Palliative Care Services click here.