Palliative care – what does it really mean?

The past three weeks of immersing in palliative care have been intense. We started off by meeting the key stakeholders of the Lerum commune’s elderly and home care unit, followed by an early morning meeting with one of the night nurses.

We spent the following week immersing into the world of palliative care at the Alingsas hospital. Though many consider palliative care as the last phase (i.e. days-weeks-months) before dying, we could see that these are the moments when patients feel most alive. The intensity of the emotions that we have witnessed would it be in palliative ward or following the team on home visits, has been beyond our expectations.

Having no prior experience in the palliative care, we learned that medical procedures and treatments are only small parts of the care. The psychological, social and existential side of the care are as important, if not more valuable than medical. Doctor typically has “the talk” (called brytpunktssamtal in Swedish) with the patient at the same time as he provides support to spouses, children, and young family members. We have observed how nurses, social workers and assistant nurses engage in excellent team work in Alingsas hospital. Our clinical immersion thus far has taught us a lot.

At the same time, we managed to identify several needs that we will continue to investigate. We would like to observe further many of the other routines and procedures that the palliative team performs. During the next few weeks, we plan to observe other departments in order to have a better understanding of the patient’s journey starting from a diagnosis through treatment to palliative care phase.

Igors Berkovics

CIF 2019

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