Ruth van ler Schot – Reflection

Ruth completed her placement with PEPA ACT in various sites across healthcare in ACT and Clare Holland house at July 2021.  Ruth’s experiences supported her to have “greater understanding of what is available to palliative patients in the ACT area”.  Ruth also noticed she now feels much more confident in recommending and affirming the quality of these services to the patients she meets, in her role as a Pastoral Carer at Calvary Bruce.

Ruth’s Key area of Learning included:

  • Gaining a better understanding of helpful resources and personnel that could be accessed by myself and patients, seeking palliative care and other related services.
  • Witnessing the way a skilful nurse practitioner raises the issue of palliative care, explaining what it means and how the patient and family can benefit from such services. In our role as Pastoral Carers at Calvary Bruce, we are sometimes asked to be present in meetings when the patient and their family receive what they call “bad news”. We often remain with the patient and family, after such a meeting, to provide support. Sometimes I have witnessed that the message regarding the end-of-life status of the patient and the need for palliative care is not explained well, increasing the distress and pain experienced by the patient and their family. I was very grateful to witness Kate Reed sharing with a patient, newly referred to Palliative Care, about the concept of Palliative Care etc. I saw how she carefully navigated around the patient’s questions and issues and explained how palliative care may assist her. I felt Kate did an excellent job.
  • Shadowing the palliative care nurses at the 2 hospitals gave me an understanding of the vital role they play in supporting the patient and the other members of the team to provide optimal care for the patient. I noted how the nurses, having significant experience and expertise in the area, streamlined the decision-making processes and even drug selection and administration, for other members of the team. I witnessed the relief other team members displayed when these nurses arrived on the scene and the positive outcomes for the patients. I was very impressed with the quality of care given.
  • Witnessing the decision-making process in the hospital around meeting the patient’s end of life needs. This included hearing the patient and their family’s preferences about their end-of-life care, understanding the limiting factors that impact this choice and, together with the patient, selecting and the best option to meet their needs. It was great to witness the input of the various members of the team in this process.
  • Witnessing the high quality of the work done by the Palliative care nursing team in the community. The role is so vast and there is often insufficient time to meet all the needs expressed by the patient and their family. I was very impressed with the dedication, compassion and diligence of the nurse I was privileged to shadow. It gave me confidence to refer patients to the service, knowing the quality of care they will receive. I noted how it could possibly benefit the patient and their family for the Community Palliative Care Nurse to be sometimes accompanied by a Pastoral carer. By working together at the visit, as part of the team, this could allow the nursing and medical care needs to be more thoroughly addressed, and also allow some of the emotional/ spiritual needs to be addressed as well.  Reflection and support to each other could also be beneficial.
  • Spending time with the Palliative Care Volunteer coordinator was very helpful. It gave me an overview of the immense services the volunteers provide, and I was grateful to be orientated to a vast array of helpful information set out on the Palliative Care ACT website.
  • Attending the team meeting gave me the opportunity to witness how each member of the team contributes to the decision-making process and the care of the patient. I gained a more comprehensive perspective about the care provided by CHH and feel confident to highly recommend it.
  • Spending time with members of the Pastoral Care team at CHH gave me further insight into the unique and tailored support they provide to each of the patients who are there. This gave me a greater understanding of the various issues faced by patients who are actively dying, and their families, and the challenges these experiences may bring to their sense of well-being and perhaps their belief.

Thanks Ruth for making your placement so valuable to you and your work you do in healthcare.

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