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NURSING TIMES IN THE FIELD

Sarah Hill: 'Can general nursing learn from specialist hospice care?'

  • 9 Comments

Production editor Sarah Hill steps outside Nursing Times’ headquarters to spend a day at a hospice

“You can’t just tackle pain with painkillers.” That was one of the most memorable statements I was told when I recently spent a day with the nurses at St Christopher’s Hospice.

What was apparent from my time spent shadowing the preceptor nurse Rebecca Newman to talking to the hospice’s home care team is that addressing patients’ emotional needs is the key to providing high-quality care.

St Christopher’s Hospice has been running its preceptor programme for newly qualified nurses from King’s College London for about three years. It believes it is the first hospice preceptorship scheme in the country.

‘Addressing patients’ emotional needs is the key to providing high-quality care’

Jane Manns from the advancing practice team explained that a lot of hospices don’t employ new registrants because it is often felt they don’t have enough life experience.

However, Penny Hansford director of nursing at St Christopher’s felt because a lot of end-of-life care is happening in hospitals, the best place to train new nurses in end-of-life skills is in a hospice – nurses can then take those skills into hospital environments.

“If they come to the hospice for a year and then go back out into the acute setting, they’ve gained all that experience in caring for dying patients. And caring for them very well. It’s a win-win situation,” Ms Manns explained.

The skills needed to care for the dying – such as sound assessment, listening and communication skills, as well as care delivered to the whole family – are the fundamentals of nursing that are needed in any environment. From speaking to Ms Newman, it appears that hospices are an ideal place to pick up these skills:

“Holistic nursing is actually quite difficult in hospitals. At the hospice there is a culture where everyone is doing that so it is a good grounding.”

There is no doubt hospices do not face the same staffing issues that occur in hospital settings.

Recent research by the National Nursing Research Unit has found that eight out of 10 hospital nurses have had to leave care undone because of staff shortages, and the activities most frequently missed were comforting, talking with or educating patients, and developing or updating care plans.

It is because hospices are better staffed than hospitals that nurses are able to care for the whole person, including family members. As Ms Newman said: “What I like about hospice nursing compared with hospitals is there is a lot of emotional work. You get to know your patients and you work closely with the families; in hospital you rarely got to know the relatives’ names.”

Surely it is this emotional work that makes such a difference to care, no matter in what setting a patient is being nursed?

If the barrier to getting to know patients and their relatives is a lack of staff then addressing this issue would make a profound difference to general nursing.

With the recent announcement that the Liverpool Care Pathway is to be withdrawn and debates surrounding best practice when caring for those who are dying, the model of hospice care must be looked at to get this essential aspect of nursing right for all patients.

Sarah Hill is production editor at Nursing Times

  • 9 Comments

Readers' comments (9)

  • michael stone

    'It is because hospices are better staffed than hospitals that nurses are able to care for the whole person, including family members.'

    That seems be a fundamental point - nurses in acute hospitals simply do not have the necessary time 'to sit with dying patients and their relatives', and however much clinical stuff you understand, if you don't understand that, you've totally missed the point about 'care of the dying'. If nurses are deprive dof the necessary time to care, the caring becomes impossible to deliver.

    http://www.dignityincare.org.uk/Discuss_and_debate/Discussion_forum/?forumID=45&obj=viewThread&threadID=694

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  • 'If nurses are deprive dof the necessary time to care, the caring becomes impossible to deliver.'

    yes, dear, we know. we have just about manged to work that one out for ourselves.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 15-Aug-2013 3:17 pm

    If you've worked it out, dear, what are the nurses in acute settings, doing to make sure they have got enough time to be with dying patients who happen to be in acute hospitals ?

    Or are you all just 'sitting on your hands' ?

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  • michael stone | 16-Aug-2013 10:48 am

    Welcome to the Trolling Times

    you have made your views known now for long enough!

    :-)

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  • Anonymous | 16-Aug-2013 11:26 am

    And the answer to mike's question at 10:48 is what ?

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  • Anonymous | 16-Aug-2013 11:26 am

    why post an unnecessarily rude comment with a smiley face?

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  • out of mike's 2022 comments to date you should find all of the answers you are looking for.

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  • Tiger Girl

    Anonymous | 16-Aug-2013 4:14 pm

    And assuming you aren't Mike - who knows with 'anonymous' - what is your own answer to Mike's question at 10:48 am ?

    'If you've worked it out, dear, what are the nurses in acute settings, doing to make sure they have got enough time to be with dying patients who happen to be in acute hospitals ?'

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  • Anonymous | 16-Aug-2013 3:55 pm

    Anonymous | 16-Aug-2013 11:26 am

    And the answer to mike's question at 10:48 is what ?

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