“A good death means choice and dignity”

IRT Registered Nurse Olivia Decker describes what it means to specialise in palliative care as part of National Palliative Care Week.    When I tell people I’m a nurse working in aged care and specialising in palliative care, their first response is usually ‘Oh you poor thing, that must be so sad… What an awful job’. My response is always the same. I tell them it’s a great job! Now don’t get me wrong, it’s sad when a loved one passes away, but it’s also the most satisfying and empowering type of nursing I’ve ever done. Working with a great team of people to make sure our residents’ ultimate choice and dignity is respected is a privilege. We do this by talking to them about how they want to die. We take the time to ask and understand how we can best support them as a whole person; meeting their physical, social and spiritual needs. Being honest about the limits of this support is an important part of the process. So is involving families, friends and carers. We work together to support our residents in the choices they have made. Most of our residents want to die at home in their residential aged care community. They want to be surrounded by their family and their carers; the people they know and trust. Things aren’t always in our control, so we...

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