‘What treatment do we offer next?’ I asked the nurse specialist, as we reviewed the latest set of results for a patient. ‘Nothing… yet,’ she replied. At first this appeared quite a strange response but I soon understood why.
On my placement on a urological ward I have really learnt to consider how the interventions we offer our patients impact upon their quality of life.
Investigations are often crucial to provide answers and appropriate treatment strategies. But how often do we consider their impact on the lives of our patients and their families – and how useful they are in determining how to manage the presenting condition?
Quality of life should not only be considered in clinical areas such as cancer, but should be included in our holistic assessment of patients in every sphere of care. During this placement I have discovered that patients’ conditions do not always show a positive progression, and this has made me stop and consider what, therefore is the next step? Do we move straight onto the next treatment, if so do we consider how this may affect the patient? Will they see more of the hospital than their family and friends? Will they need a catheter and could they cope with such a change?
I believe quality of life is a crucial part of holistic assessment and should be considered with every change to patients’ health status and general circumstances and when we consider new interventions. Ongoing assessment will enable us, as reflective practitioners, to consider the significant impact our actions, treatments and interventions have on our patients and their quality of life – not only within a hospital setting but also in their daily lives.
James Squires is a second-year adult nursing student in London
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