Bhubaneswar: The palliative care which aimed to reduce pain in the critical patients, is simply impossible without the proper nursing, said Dr. Mami Parija, President, the Bhubaneswar based Amrit Dhara Palliative Care Trust,
Dr Parija was speaking on the occasion of the International-Nurses-Day. While highlighting the contribution of world’s best nurses like Florence Nightingale, Dame Cicely Saunders and others, Dr Parija said Odisha too has many dedicated nurses working silently without any publicity and they deserve a praise from the society.
Noting that palliative care is an approach which is completely person centric, she said it focuses on pain control and physical symptoms management; addresses the emotional, social, cultural and spiritual needs of patients and gives attention to families of those patients at any time during the illness trajectory.
The ultimate goal of palliative care is to support the best possible quality of life for patients and their families. However, she said, Palliative care is a team approach comprising nurses, doctors, pharmacists, physiotherapists, counsellors, chaplain or priest, social worker and volunteers are the team members.
Palliative Care can be delivered to the needy patients (and their family caregivers) at different settings- out-patient clinic, day care, home care, hospice and hospital ward. “Nurses play a pivotal role in managing complex situations where the patients and families are suffering because of serious illness and its consequences,” She said.
The nurses, who are educated in palliative care nursing, facilitate the caring process through the combination of science, presence, openness, compassion, mindful attention to detail and team work. Many patients with serious life limiting illnesses have common symptoms that the nurse can assess, prevent and manage to optimize their quality of life, Dr Parija said.
These symptoms include pain, dyspnoea, cough, anorexia and cachexia, constipation, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, depression, anxiety, cognitive changes, fatigue, pressure injuries, seizures, and sleep disturbances. Good symptom management improves quality of life and functioning at all states of chronic illness.
And nurses play a critical role in recognizing these symptoms and communicating them to the interdisciplinary team for optimal management. “Nurses have a tremendous potential to reform healthcare and ensure quality care for seriously ill patients and their family. Nurses understand the individual need and can emphasize patients’ and families’ active participation in decision making,” she said while highlighting the role of nurses in palliative care of cancer and other serious illnesses.
They can help in replacing uncertainty with certainty, hopelessness with faith and despair with empowerment. The combination of evidence based practice with humanistic and compassionate care represents the need of the hour to integrate the science and art of nursing with palliative care.