Providing compassion in end of life care

Posted on Wed, 11/04/2018 by Dawn Orr, Macmillan Palliative Care Nurse Consultant

Dawn Orr

Palliative and end of life care is about supporting patients and their loved ones with the difficult decisions and conversations that they need to make in a compassionate and timely manner, especially when they are approaching end of life and planning for their death.

The most rewarding part of my role is ensuring that patients receive the best quality care and that the balance of their symptom control and emotional support from our services not only settle their symptoms but improve their quality of life. 

I feel fortunate to work with highly specialist teams and hope that the ward teams learn from me as much as I learn from them.  I feel privileged to work in such a supportive environment.

I hope to inspire and educate others to not be frightened to have these difficult conversations to ensure that the needs of everyone involved are addressed and the education and support of our staff is integral to this.

Relatives and staff often say to me, "I don’t know how you can do that job", but I get great satisfaction from supporting everyone to ensure that patients can live as well as possible for as long as possible.

We all know that it’s the little things that matter at this difficult time and an important question I always ask is what is your main worry or concern? You can find out a lot from that one question! The answer is often that they are afraid they will not be remembered and I personally get comfort from supporting patients to leave a legacy, however little…a simple letter or card saying I love you or buying a keepsake or completing a memory box.

Everyone deserves to be cared for well at end of life and it is my mission to ensure that this happens in Gateshead.

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