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The views and opinions expressed in our blog series are those of the authors and are not necessarily supported by CareSearch, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health.
Mrs J is getting admitted into the aged care facility I work in today. At handover, they tell me she is for palliative care. I think to myself, she must have cancer because palliative care is only for cancer right? I peruse her diagnoses and there is no mention of cancer so how can she be palliative? And if she is indeed for palliative care, shouldn’t she be in hospice? This is all too confusing. So off I go to Dr Google and look up the definition of palliative care and it says that palliative care ‘is person and family centered care provided for a person with an active, progressive, advanced disease, who has little or no prospects of cure and who is expected to die, and for whom the primary goal is to optimize the quality of life’ (Palliative Care Australia). I begin to reflect on this definition and realise most of the residents I am providing care for fit that description. So what does it mean? What is it that I will need to start doing to look after the residents now that I know what palliative care is? Who do I talk to?
If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, I’ve been in that situation or know someone who has been in that situation then keep reading on. As a Registered Nurse (RN) working in aged care for over ten years now, I have been faced with such challenges of not knowing what to do for someone in my care. I have had days where I was the most senior person on site and still had many questions regarding the care I was meant to provide. My days have sometimes been so busy I have struggled to sit and go through heaps of research online to find answers to my questions.
We all like to give the best care we can utilising the best resources we can get. In my experience, the best resource is evidence-based information. And the biggest barrier to gathering this information is? You guessed it, time. If you are an RN working in aged care, you are not only providing care to people, but also supervising other staff such as personal care workers (PCWs). You not only need to be on top of your game in terms of clinical practice, you also need to be able to provide on the spot education to other care workers and sometimes family members.
That’s where the new palliAGED practice tip sheets in palliative care will come in handy. They will provide evidence-based information in a concise format that allows one to gather what they need to know in a short space of time and then get on with what one does best, looking after the elderly. They will also help with facilitating on the spot education for PCWs and other RNs. So now, we can literally refresh our palliative care knowledge over a cup of coffee. Beats trying to get life insurance over a cup of coffee.
PCWs are very important in the chain of care and must be treated as such. They deserve to understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. I love the fact that each topic found in the nurse palliAGED practice tips, there is also one geared towards PCWs. Each tip is broken down into: What it is? Why it matters? What I need to know? The tip sheets for PCWs also have highlighted sections for the most important things to note and what to do in that event.
For the RNs, the tip sheets have similar first three sections written in language that even a graduate nurse would understand. They also have ‘actions’ for the RNs to undertake and they have reference to evidence-based ‘tools’ that we can choose to use in our everyday care. We all know once the Uni days are over, we lose subscription to best practice documents and we rely on company policy and procedure manuals to guide us. Nothing wrong with that. But as nursing is lifelong learning, it is always good to research for ourselves and these tip sheets point us in the right direction of which tools to use. Some of the tools mentioned are free to use and some might require subscription.
At the back of each sheet is a reflection section where one can write their personal reflection on that particular topic. If you feel like writing more notes then there is also a space for it. If you are like me and need to keep track of your CPD then you can print these off and keep them in you PD folder for future reference. The tip sheets are so easy to follow one can read them on their own or in a group session should you wish to. I cannot wait for their official launch.
Prosper Sithole, Nurse Practitioner at Bupa Aged Care Australia