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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.
I started out my career as an enrolled nurse and after a few short term positions spent 21 years at Ashford Hospital. While I was there and aged about 33, my brother died after a short diagnosis of cancer at age 35 – way too young and with much still to give. He spent a few weeks in Daw House hospice – my introduction to this facility and palliative care. I was so inspired with the way care could be delivered and the compassion with which staff went about their work that I decided then and there that this was the way I wished to work going forward. I learnt that, at that time, there was no hope of employment at Daw House for an enrolled nurse, so decided that I would study to become a registered nurse to realise my desire to work in this field.
The aim of modern palliative care, whether provided by generalist, or specialist service providers, is to support palliative patients to live and die within the context of their lives, in the setting of their choice, with symptom control and a pattern of care that is supportive of patients’ caregivers.
Most Australian palliative care patients prefer to be cared for at home and the majority want to die at home, though only about 16% of Australians achieve that wish . While there is no nationally consistent data on the volume of community services providing palliative care, it is known to be limited .
The Palliative Care Clinical Studies Collaborative (PaCCSC) is a national research network that has two main aims:
With 52% of Australians dying in acute hospitals, end-of-life care is essential knowledge for health care professionals.
However, health care professionals working in acute hospitals can find themselves challenged by patients with end-of-life care needs. Doctors, nurses and allied health professionals can be in a situation where they do not know how to best respond to a patient with end-of-life needs. Appropriate end-of-life interventions can be missed.
Reflecting on what I do and what my responsibilities are as a Research Nurse is quite complex and one single role cannot encompass all the activities associated with clinical research trials.
Protocol development is the first phase of the project, where a team is involved in developing the protocol. From my perspective, knowledge and experience of a research nurse is indispensable in creating a good balance between the needs of the research and the patients involved.