Pain remains a common symptom experienced in the palliative care patient population. Despite advances in pain management, patients remain at risk for inadequate relief, especially at end of life (EOL). In order to provide quality pain relief, nurses must possess appropriate knowledge regarding assessment and treatment including pharmacological and nonpharmacological interventions. This chapter provides nurses with a basic overview of the principles of pain assessment and pharmacological management throughout the illness continuum and at EOL. The needs of special populations who have been identified as “at risk” of inadequate pain control are highlighted, including older adults, children, persons with communication impairment, patients with a history of substance abuse, and cancer survivors. These groups represent those in whom pain is often unrecognized, not respected or not believed. Many of the principles of pain assessment and management reviewed can be applied to children.
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An adult is presumed to have the ability to make his or her own healthcare decisions—including termination of life-sustaining technology—unless he or she is shown to be incapacitated by clinical examination or ruled incompetent by a court of law. Advance care directives are legal vehicles used by people to provide guidance to their healthcare providers concerning the care they would desire in the event they become incapacitated and cannot make their own decisions. Problems with advance directives may arise when they do not seem to apply to the patient’s situation. Nurses roles include educating the patient and family about the patient’s condition and legal end-of-life (EOL) choices, identifying the patient’s and family’s wishes for EOL care, articulating the patient’s and family’s desires to other members of the healthcare team, and assisting the patient and family to obtain necessary and appropriate EOL care.
Career opportunities are projected to grow faster for nursing than all other occupations through 2026. The advantage of a career framework with multiple stages is that one doesn’t start out expecting to be fully developed at the beginning. Mentoring is needed throughout a career, not just at the start. This chapter provides an overview of the career model that the author has fleshed out over time, greatly influenced by Dalton, Thompson, and Price’s classic article (1977) on stages of a professional career and subsequent work. There are five career stages whereby the individual moves from: (a) becoming prepared, to (b) demonstrating the ability to work independently and interdependently in achieving professional goals, then (c) developing others and the home institution, then (d) advancing the profession and healthcare, and eventually (e) daring to be a truth teller. Exerting leadership presupposes complete career development, going through all five career stages.
The main message of this chapter is that a professional career requires sustained development in interpersonal, interprofessional, and communication effectiveness. Undergraduate and graduate courses are full of valuable information about communication—spoken, written, visual, electronic, and social media. Instead of trying to summarize the communication essentials that nurse leaders should have acquired along the way and will need to develop additionally over time, this chapter focuses on some communication skills important to goal achievement that the author learned to appreciate more with experience. They fall under the following headings: courtesies, self-presentation, negotiations, the importance of data arrays and publication, and the value of understanding the viewpoint of others. Self-monitoring, as a leadership ability, means the person seeks to shape how she or he is perceived in order to achieve professional objectives. Measurable outcomes and published results are important in building the image of the profession.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of death due to a respiratory cause. Development of this disease occurs as the result of cigarette smoking and exposure to environmental pollution. In addition, the normal physiologic changes due to the aging process place individuals at an increased risk for the development of complications, such as cor pulmonale and pneumonia. In order to reduce the risk of developing the complications of COPD, smoking cessation is recommended. Pharmacologic modalities focus on improving ventilation, reducing inflammation, and preventing complications. Nonpharmacologic interventions including exercise, rest, and improved nutrition can be valuable complementary therapies in the care of patients with COPD. To provide palliative care for patients at every stage of COPD, from diagnosis to the end of life, the nurse needs to acquire the knowledge and skills for expert nursing care.
Gastrointestinal (GI) symptomatology is common in patients receiving palliative care. Many patients have described the constant nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea as more disabling and disturbing than pain. Anorexia and subsequent cachexia are common in patients at the end of life with multiple potential and often overlapping causes. GI symptoms affect patients’ activities of daily living and influence their quality of life. Other common GI symptoms in palliative care patients include dysphagia, constipation and bowel obstructions, hiccups, and xerostomia. All of the GI symptoms may be related to the pathology of the diseases as well as treatments. Having an understanding of both is crucial for the nurse caring for patients in this setting. As in all palliative care, ongoing assessment of the patient is necessary to determine what interventions are working and which need modification. Interventions include pharmacological, nonpharmacological, and complementary therapies.
Strategic planning involves examining how your professional and/or organizational mission is being affected by changing circumstances, setting goals with concrete actions and a timeline, and then figuring out needed resources and expected outcomes. “The vision thing” at its best involves periodically embarking on a process of strategic planning whereby you examine how your professional or organizational mission is being affected by changing circumstances, and then set short-term and long-term goals with concrete actions and a timeline that moves you in desired new directions. Transformational leaders are deeply committed to the organization and its mission/values, make use of consultants so that they are not limited by the boundaries of their expertise, are willing to try something new knowing that not all good ideas work out, combine vision with practicality in figuring out how to operationalize the change process, and know how to use a range of individuals to the organization’s advantage.
This chapter discusses several common skin problems including skin tears, pressure injuries formerly known as pressure ulcers, skin tumors, treatment-related skin injuries, peristomal skin, and fistulas. Skin changes, including pressure injuries, are common occurrences during the dying process. The Wound Bed Preparation 2015 model can be used as a clinician guide to develop a care plan for a palliative care patient with an alteration in skin integrity. Focusing on the wound etiology and classifying wounds as healable, maintenance, or palliative (non-healable) can provide realistic expectations for patients, their family unit, and caregivers as well as the healthcare professional team. Wound care should be aimed at improving the patient’s quality of life by providing comfort, relieving pain, controlling odor, and containing exudate. It is paramount that the patient’s preference be prioritized in the decision-making process and the implementation of realistic treatment care plans.
This chapter focus is on sexual health. Sexual health is a broad concept made up of multiple facets such as sexual desire, self as a sexual being, sexual orientation, sexual lifestyles, and relationships. Intimacy, closeness, communication, and emotional support affect all facets of sexuality. Sexual health within the context of palliative care may be directly impacted by the disease on anatomical structures. However, direct anatomical effect is not the only concern; changes in a person’s sexual interest or desire may also be affected by direct or indirect consequences of medical treatment or in association with being terminally ill. Illness involving sexual organs increases the likelihood of retraumatization for those who have experienced previous sexual trauma. Healthcare practitioners (HCPs) frequently avoid talking about sexuality with cancer patients. HCPs’ barriers to discussing sexuality include embarrassment, misinformed beliefs and assumptions, lack of knowledge, inadequate communication skills, and time constraints.
Neediness cannot be banished, but it’s possible to learn from each shortcoming, determined not to be derailed by either hubris or core anxieties. Taking on new leadership roles, we have to get in touch with warring expectations on the way to a more textured view of leadership and our sense of ourselves as leaders. There are a number of normal-crazy thoughts that get in the way of leadership; for example, wanting to be liked by everyone; believing that if you’re not perfect then you’re no good; thinking things should not go wrong. To succeed, nurses must realize that failure is commonplace. Expect failure, recognize root causes, and then proceed to learn from the experience—this process builds personal resilience. Learning environments that foster a culture of potentiality enable fledgling practitioners to persist in the face of failure because the emphasis is on improving over time.