New online resource to help community nurses support carers on end of life issues

Categories: Education.

The Queen’s Nursing Institute has launched a new, free online resource to help community nurses to support people who are caring for a family member or friend at home.

One of the seven chapters focuses on end of life care, and includes videos recorded at St Richard’s Hospice, where hospice staff and carers talk about the needs of carers and those who have been bereaved.

As a person approaches death, there are enormous demands on the carer in terms of physical care and providing emotional and spiritual support to the patient. The resource outlines how community nurses can help carers as well as patients to cope with the issues and stages of the dying process, and try to make this final journey of life the best experience possible.

The end of life care module aims to help community nurses to:

  • Identify the practical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and emotional requirements of the carer and how to meet these needs.
  • Identify how the needs of the carer will change as the patient deteriorates.
  • Identify the practical, emotional psychological and spiritual needs of the carer and family at the point of death.
  • Recognise the experience of carers as the caring role ends and after it has ended and offer support to carers accordingly.
  • Understand assessment with appropriate referral to other agencies.

The end of life care module is just one of seven, each of which includes a quiz and a self-assessment exercise to consolidate learning. As well as end of life care, the resource also covers assessment of carers, signposting, mental health, learning disability and dementia.

Viv Bennett, Director of Nursing, Department of Health and Public Health England, commented: “Carers are vital and expert partners in health and care services providing 24 hour care that enables people to be at home. Supporting carers wellbeing is hugely important and community nurses have significant opportunity and responsibility to ensure that this happens. This resource from QNI provides excellent information for carers directly and for community nurses supporting carers in their communities.”

Crystal Oldman, the QNI’s Chief Executive, added: “Carers form a vital part of the support system that allows people with long term conditions to live at home in safety and comfort and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions. Very often carers need the support that community nurses can give and this resource helps nurses to understand the support needed and how they can provide this. The resource is aimed at nurses working with carers in the community setting, but it will provide insight into carers’ needs more generally for professionals working in a variety of settings. We all need to learn more about how we can help this hidden army of carers who work tirelessly to support their loved ones.”

The resource, developed with funding from the Department of Health, was developed by Mary Somerville and Pip Maskell, with extensive input from Queen’s Nurses and other community professionals over the course of 2013.

The resource can be accessed for free on the QNI website.

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