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Palliative Care Nurse: What they do & how to become one

Lynne Hagon, Registered General Nurse and Clinical Lead at Great Oaks, an Encore care home, explains what skillset makes the best palliative care nurse and how to become one:

What does a nurse do in palliative care?

A nurse supports, assesses, and evaluates the resident.  Nurses seek additional advice from the GP or consultant.  They will call in a palliative care team if needed, such as Macmillan.  Nurses administer medication and continually evaluate if it is working, and if it is not, they will review the medication and situation.

What skills, experience and qualifications do nurses need to have for palliative care?

Nurses need to have the Registered General Nurse qualification provide palliative care.  They need to be very receptive and can really listen to residents and their family members and be able to talk to them in a relatable way.  Palliative care nurses need to be proficient at providing counselling, and understanding when a resident feels angry, or sad.  They need to be empathetic and receptive to individuals’ feelings and provide support during these difficult times.  Palliative care nurses need to pick up on cues and be knowledgeable about the ailment so they can treat it fast.

As well as achieving the Registered General Nurse qualification, nurses can also hone their skills by taking end-of-life care courses.  These can be day course, short courses of a few days, or full courses of several weeks.

How to become a palliative care nurse

Palliative care nurses are required to have a Registered General Nurse (RGN) qualification, as well as completing an end-of-life course.

What makes a good palliative care nurse?

A good palliative care nurse is receptive, empathetic, and supportive.  They understand the affects that an end-of-life prognosis has on a resident and on the family, and they are there to provide care, comfort, and counselling to help individuals come to terms with the condition and to find ways to help residents to live well and find happiness and peace during all the stages of palliative care.

What is end of life training?

There are various courses for end-of-life training.  They vary from short courses of one to three days, which improve skillsets and provides nurses with a completion certificate, to long courses of a few weeks where a palliative care qualification is achieved at end.

End-of-life training encompasses useful skills, such as counselling techniques, ways to support, understanding both the resident’s and the relatives’ concerns and feelings, and developing listening skills.

The more in-depth end-of-life courses expand on the physical affects and focus more on counselling – what to say, how to say it, and supporting via cues from things that relatives say.

Palliative Care at Encore Care Homes

At Encore Care Homes our end of life care enables us to help you, or your loved one to live as comfortably as possible and to ensure, without compromise, that you, or your loved one passes away with respect and dignity.

Find out more about the palliative care we offer by calling us.