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What is a palliative care nurse?

Palliative care nurses specialise in providing care for people living with terminal illness, helping them achieve the best quality of life. As well as supporting patients, palliative care nurses help entire families through some of the most difficult times in their life.

What is palliative care?

The main purpose of palliative care is to minimise symptoms that cause discomfort to patients. Patients could be in pain due to illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.

Both the physical and emotional distress of these illnesses can result in patients and loved ones needing palliative care nurses. The main goal and duty of a palliative care nurse is to enhance the level of comfort for patients and address health issues.

What do palliative care nurses do?

The duties of a palliative care nurse can vary from day-to-day, however their duties mainly include:

  • Monitoring symptoms over time
  • Evaluating the health of patients to ensure they are getting the correct care
  • Helping patients adhere to their medication schedules
  • Maintaining a direct line of communication between patient and allied health professionals
  • Aid patients with any mobility issues they may have
  • Attending to their personal care needs, such as feeding and bathing

Palliative care nurses provide a multidisciplinary treatment approach which helps patients maintain physical and mental health. Often, patients will have a customised patient plan that provides lasting relief – there is a strong focus on improving the patients’ quality of life in their final days.

Why become a palliative care nurse?

Being a palliative care nurse means you can make a valuable difference to someone’s life. This role can lead to great job satisfaction as you spend so much time caring for each patient, getting to know them and their family to meet their individual needs.

When working as a palliative care nurse, you have the opportunity to work in various environments – this includes people’s homes, hospices, or in the community. Alongside this flexibility, one of the main benefits of working as a palliative care nurse is that it’s an extremely rewarding career.

Skills for palliative care nursing

  • Communication – you will be communicating with healthcare professionals and family members and provide regular updates on a patient’s condition.
  • Compassion – just like all types of nursing, empathy and compassion is essential. You will be required to be able to empathise with your patient’s condition and struggles.
  • Adaptability – you may need to adapt to patient personalities and moods and their condition. Their illness may cause them to deteriorate both physically and mentally and you will have to become accustomed to this.
  • Resilience – palliative nursing comes with a multitude of challenges – It is important you are able to work well under pressure, and cope with any challenges that come your way.

How do I become a registered palliative care nurse?

There are a number of routes into nursing – after completing a degree or traineeship approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), or the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland , you will firstly qualify as a general nurse. You can then complete a two-year conversion course to become a palliative care nurse. To be able to practice in the UK, all nurses have to register with the NMC or the NMBI in IrelandThinking of becoming a palliative care nurse? Here at The Guild, we have a wide range of roles in different locations, offering a multitude of benefits such as competitive pay and training opportunities. Contact our team today for more information, or register online now.

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