Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

STUDENT LIFE

'It was the first time I'd met a patient who wanted to die at home'

  • Comment

Student nurse, James Merrell, discovers how easy it is to become emotionally involved

While on placement I helped nurse a patient whose family decided that they would like to take their relative home to pass away there.

I had nursed dying patients before in my role as a healthcare assistant and I had dealt with the death of patients as a student nurse, however, I had never come across a family who wanted to take their loved one home.

This was new to me and I asked my mentor and the palliative care nurses if I could somehow be involved, they agreed.

The next day I was on night duty and as I walked through the door I noticed the family waiting in the corridor. I could see that they had been crying and I was surprised to see them as I thought the patient would have gone home by now.

While I believe that it’s important to maintain a  professional attitude at all times, this experience taught me how easily it is to become emotionally involved

After my handover I visited the patient and saw that he had deteriorated since the last I saw him. I gently held his hand and asked him if he was in pain. He softly shook his head saying no.

As the patient wasn’t particularly old it made it harder for me to nurse this man professionally. When the family cried I could feel tears in my eyes, I could feel that they were already grieving.

While I believe that it’s important to maintain a  professional attitude at all times, this experience taught me how easily it is to become emotionally involved.

My mentor was fantastic and told me that my feelings were normal. The family had very specific preferences about what was to happen when the patient passed away and they wanted very minimal nursing input, they believed that it should be just the patient and them. That was adhered too, however, the patient became very quickly unwell and died very suddenly but peacefully with his family all around him.

I believe that my mentor could not have handled the situation better, she delivered skill care with confidence, kindness and most of all compassion

After the patient passed away the family requested to know what had happened and why he had died so quickly. My mentor spoke to them showing empathy and compassion and it was the first time since starting my nursing career that I understood what nursing was.

I can honestly say I will never forget this family or the patient. I felt deeply involved in his care and I enjoyed talking to him in the days leading up to his death.

I believe that my mentor could not have handled the situation better, she delivered skill care with confidence, kindness and most of all compassion.

James Merrell is a first year nursing student studying at Bournemouth University.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.