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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.
Symptom management is a large component of maintaining a person’s comfort at the end of life, along with supporting spiritual, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the person and their loved ones. Karen Gregory from Resthaven Inc. discusses how routine comfort measures often thought about at this time are around pain relief, comfortable positioning, skin care, urinary and bowel care, mouth and eye care. She refers to the palliAGED Practice Tip Sheets and gives tips on simple techniques to maintain comfort of the eyes and mouth which can make a high impact on the quality of life during the last days of life.
There is no doubt that nurses are fundamental to health care. There are over 350,000 nurses currently practising in Australia. They are the largest single health profession in Australia. But more importantly, they are most often the face of care to the person needing care. And this is particularly important to remember when thinking about the care needs of an older person who may be the last stage of their life.
Many older people spend some or all of the last year of their life at home. Some will move to residential aged care or will already be in an aged care facility. Others will live with families or friends. Some may spend time in a hospital. Nearly all will be involved with a GP and with their Practice Nurses. So not only are nurses critical in enabling good care for older Australians coming to the end of their life, they will be providing this care in many different settings.