Helping dying patients say goodbye

“You need to know you’re leaving before you can say goodbye.”

These poignant words from a patient illustrate how vital it is to constantly improve end of life care, as Blacktown Hospital has endeavoured to achieve with a recent project.

The project, ‘It Takes a Team’, brought together nursing and medical staff from cardiology and gastroenterology at the hospital.

Their findings included three key aims: to skill up nursing and medical staff in recognising when a patient is approaching the end of their life, to empower nurses to share their observations that a patient is dying with doctors, and to improve staff skills in discussing this sensitive topic with patients and families.

The project was led by Supportive and Palliative Medicine director Dr Sally Greenaway as part of her undertaking the Clinical Excellence Commission’s Executive Clinical Leadership Program.

“People often refer to this conversation as ‘breaking bad news’, but I like Professor Peter Saul’s phrase ‘telling the truth kindly’,” Sally said.

“Most people want some control over their goodbyes and their death. Not just getting their legal affairs in order, but thinking about the last things they want to do, where they want to die and who they want there with them.

To read the full article published in The Pulse click here.

Image: Dr Sally Greenaway with her ‘It Takes a Team’ project poster for the CEC Executive Clinical Leadership Program graduation. Picture: David Thomson Photography