Tag Archives: palliative care

A Woman’s Courage: Patient’s Teach Lessons about the 6C’s Too!

Courage comes in many guises

Courage comes in many guises

Courage comes in many guises. Immediately one thinks of the courage of our armed services in the theatre of battle. Or indeed the courage of those who face victimisation or oppression because of what they believe. In fact, in nursing at the moment, COURAGE is one of the 6C’s which combine to make outstanding care. But it’s easy to miss the attributes and virtues that relatives bring into our hospitals and which are inspirational.

Recently,I have seen COURAGE face to face in my Hospital.

So I was called to a ward and walked into the dimly lit side room and in the gloom made out two figures. A poorly and frail man in the hospital bed, and a woman sitting at his side holding his hand. She was his wife of 40 years, had been his carer for the last decade due to a stroke; and now, when his time was drawing near to leave this earth, was there at his side.

For hours on end, day after day, she would sit with him. When he slept, she rested. When he woke, she reassured him- bringing comfort and peace that no one else could.

And as we chatted, she told me about their life together: of the dogs and holidays; the good times and the bad; and all of it was infused with pragmatism and love. I visited that room a number of times; each time she was there doing what she could, not because it was expected, but because it was the right thing for them.

Now to have an illness yourself is often bearable. But to watch someone you love and are linked to go through something is, well at times, agonising. I did my best for this lady and man. I made her cups of tea; purloined some biscuits; gave her time to tell her story. But I couldn’t walk her journey; merely tread a few steps with her along the way.
She was, I believe, with him when he passed away; but if not- then he still would have known of the love which surrounded him.

We can learn a lot from books; a lot from colleagues; a lot from the internet.
But for me, if I want to know what courage is, I need look no further than this woman.

Now that’s courage.

“Pathway of death drugged and deprived patients of fluids” NOT FOR MY MOM

My contributors are getting faster and faster. I was so heartened by the email which came in this morning. It refers to the recent report by Baroness Neuberger about the Liverpool Care Pathway. The writer, who wishes to remain anonymous, shares her story and invites me to post it.

I am incensed by the withdrawal of the Liverpool Care Pathway and wanted to have a way to share my experience of it. There is no public way and the press have their own agenda so thank you for your blog.
My mom was on Laurel 3 at the Royal and was really poorly. She had suffered for a long time and the doctors and nurses said that she was palliative. They explained to me fully what this meant and hooked me up with a nurse who was part of the palliative care team. I can honestly say that they spent hours with my sister, myself and my mom- not just doing the medical things but also finding out about her and her life.
She was comfortable throughout all of this. Her morphine was given through a machine. She had water from a drip; and the nurses on the wards came and did all the things which I expect nurses to do. I am a retired nurse and in those days we used to call it TLC, making the patient comfortable, pain free and dignified as they met their end.
We noticed that mom was becoming a bit swollen and the nurse explained that she was not able to get rid of the water that was going into her. It was decided with us involved that we should stop the drip. We could still give her fluids on a sponge, which we were encouraged to do, and to make sure her mouth and tongue did not dry out.
Throughout all this, and they were some of the hardest days of my life, we saw the care and compassion of the nurses. Not a death pathway, just a way of treating mom with the dignity and compassion that she deserved at the end of a full life. And ask: “Will patients’ and relatives’ experience of end-of-life care be improved by the withdrawal of the LCP?” For me the jury is out.
I am sad that this pathway is ending. What will replace it? And whatever that report says, I can only give my own experience. Which is truly professional care in the time when we needed it most.

For this lady, the LCP was a tool for making her mother comfortable at the end of her life. I have seen other times, where as part of my job as Chaplain, the LCP has been used to great effect to help with patients coming to the end of their journey. That is not to say that there are not expamples of poor practice, possible because of under-resoucing or inadequate training, clearly there are. Baroness Neuberger is a respected person, and whilst I do not want to demur, I, too, can only post people’s honest opinions about treatment.

I suppose the question remains: “Will patient’s experience be better with the dismantling of the LCP?” For Baroness Neuberger the answer seems to be in the affirmative. For me the jury is out.

FOCUS ON STAFF: Karen Elliker- Macmillan Nurse: “Time to spend with patients.”


Karen is the sort of nurse you want on your side. She will fight for you tooth and nail- and does not mind who she takes on! For me (sparing her blushes) its because she cares about the patient. Nothing is too much trouble. anyway, read her responses and if you want yours included then send me a paragraph.

What do you do?

I am a hospital based Macmillan Nurse and I have been doing this work now for 6 years.

What does your career look like?

I have been qualified for the over 31 years and have a varied career mainly within A/E. I changed my career in 2007 after being lucky enough to undertake a secondment to the palliative care team.

Why do you do what you do?

I love what I do mainly because I can make a difference when it matters most. The most satisfying part of my work is when I can help bring to fruition patient’s wishes for end of life care.

Any interesting times?

My best memories revolve around my career and especially around meeting my husband of 22 years.
As a junior sister within an A/E department in Birmingham an ambulance crew arrived with a drunk patient who promptly got off the stretcher and thumped me. One of the ambulance crew was to become my future husband.

What about your team?

I work with a lovely team of people. We are close and very supportive of each other, this is extremely important as the work we do can be quite distressing and at times draining.

What do patients say about you?

The response from patients and relatives that I have in my care is normally positive. They very much appreciate my involvement. I think much of this is because we have time to spend with patients and relatives that other ward based staff do not have due to other pressures.

And what about the NHS?

I have worked at WRH now for 12 years in total and love it. There is a lot of unrest around the trust at the moment but at the end of the day the staff remain positive and continue to work hard. I have never worked in such a friendly supportive environment.

Anything else?

Hope that this is not too long and boring for you all to read.