06 May 2009

Support for the patient

Here are 15 quick tips for making the patient more comfortable.

Here are 15 quick tips for making the patient more comfortable.
  1. Prevent boredom.
    - help them to keep occupied
    - provide things to keep them busy
  2. Call for help.
    - place a bell in the bedroom and bathroom
    - make sure the patient is able to reach and use it
  3. Keep patient in touch with reality.
    - hang a calendar in full view of the patient where the date and day is clearly visible
    - use big clock
    - include them in the planning of their routine, meals and equipment choices
  4. The patient who is bedridden has not lost the ability to think.
    - involve them in decision-making processes - participate/discuss issues
  5. Encourage visits from friends and loved ones.
    - this must be carefully monitored, to ensure the patient is not exhausted
  6. Allow them to talk about their lives.
    - this validates what they have done, their experiences, achievements etc (narrative therapy)
    - give them opportunity to voice concerns
  7. Maintain the independence of the patient as far as possible.
    - let them do things for themselves, if they can.
    - don’t take over everything
  8. Bring into contact with spiritual leader or counsellor.
    - make peace by mending relationships and dealing with “unfinished business”
  9. Sorting out future of children and loved ones.
    - allow them to be part of the decision-making process
  10. Keep children informed about what’s going on.
    - allow them to participate in the care of the ill person
    - maintain children’s routine (patient should not be overriding their routine)
    - be mindful of impact on children’s school performance
    - particularly hard on adolescents, who are going through developmental stage, may struggle to cope with sudden changes (eg. Mother going bald as result of chemotherapy).
  11. Be mindful of the impact of role changes on the couple. (if spouse is ill)
    - may affect their sexual relationship, be aware of those needs
  12. Be sensitive. Communication is key.
    - if patient is unable to communicate, you need to provide alternative means of communication so that they can still make their needs known
    - using signs, pictures, pointing, writing
  13. Research shows that people who form part of a support group manage better and the burden of care is much easier.
    - Become aware of what services are available in the community and encourage the use of community resources
    - join support groups, ideally support for both the caregiver and the patient
  14. Children should be encouraged to find relevant support group where they can identify with others in the group.
    - Keep the child’s school updated on what is going on
    - The school can also form part of the support system to the child
  15. Caregivers should organise a platform to share ideas and learn from each other.
    - this should occur independently of the patient

(Thania Gopal, Health24, April 2009)

Ester Pepper, Nursing Services Manager, St Lukes Hospice
Priscilla Nelson, CEO St Lukes Hospice

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