The nursing profession offers the highly rewarding opportunity of actively working with patients to improve the quality of their life. Palliative care nurses differ from general nurses in that they aim to make the end of people’s lives more comfortable, through pain management and other techniques.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care refers to end of life care, in which the goal is to improve the quality of life for a patient with a terminal illness, and offers a holistic approach to supporting the patient and family through the tough journey of illness and medical treatment.

Good quality end of life care is very important, and the debate surrounding it is becoming increasingly visible, as demonstrated by previous Prestige Nursing + Care blog posts. A recent Office for National Statistics survey also suggests that the majority of recently bereaved people are happy with the standard of palliative care on offer – a sign of the important work and massive difference palliative care workers are able to make – but there is currently a shortage of trained staff in the sector.

The role of a palliative care nurse

The duties of a palliative care nurse are similar to the duties and responsibilities of a care assistant. However, palliative care nurses require a more extensive knowledge base in the medical field, as they are a resource for the patient and family regarding medical treatment options. Becoming a palliative care nurse also requires you to be comfortable in communicating to patients and families about stressful situations at a challenging time.

By taking a team-based approach to care, a palliative care nurse provides psychological, social and spiritual support to both patients and families.

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Why become a palliative care nurse?

While working with people who are invariably going to pass away means that the work is not for the faint of heart, the difference that good palliative care can make to individuals nearing the end of life and their families is staggering. 75% of people in the ONS’ survey rated the palliative care that their loved ones received as outstanding, showing that there is a real sense of gratitude towards those working in the sector.

Palliative care offers a challenging and intense working environment for nurses, and the wide range of conditions that are encountered makes for varied and stimulating practice. Furthermore, working with patients’ families gives palliative care a pastoral dimension that many find rewarding.

How to become a palliative care nurse

Before deciding to pursue this course, it is important for prospective palliative nurses to ensure that it is definitely the route that they want to take.  Having a desire to provide for holistic care is highly important, as an incurable illness does not just affect the patient physically, but also emotionally and psychologically. A palliative nurse must therefore have a desire to provide care in these areas, while possessing a great deal of emotional resolve.

Palliative care is a specialisation within nursing, meaning that to pursue the field, you must first become a registered nurse (RN). After completing the necessary training you will have a greater understanding of the health industry and the knowledge needed to guide a patient through their illness. After working in the industry for at least two years, you are eligible to take the certification exam for palliative care nursing.

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Taking the steps to go into this rewarding industry will allow you to pursue the working areas of complex nursingspecialist homecare and end of life care – all offered through Prestige Nursing + Care.

Get in touch to find out more about palliative care nursing jobs and opportunities at Prestige.