Following on from our last piece, Nicola gives some more in depth thoughts on how to cope with the loss of a patient.
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Hi guys, my name is Nicola and I'm a Neonatal Nurse.
Today I'm going to be sharing with you some advice in regards to dealing with a dying patient.
So dealing with a dying patient can be a really, really difficult experience, whether it's your first or your second or your third time, that kind of situation is never easy.
It can be quite confusing to know what is expected of you as a professional. It can be hard to know what to expect because every situation is different.
So a few things that I would advise in regards to this situation would be consider attending a debrief.
Now that can be a one-to-one debrief, or it can be a debrief in a larger group situation.
A debrief is a really good opportunity to go over the situation, to look at what went well, what didn't go well, to reflect, to think about what things the team and even yourself as an individual could have done differently.
What did you learn?
It provides you with the opportunity just to be able to talk about your feelings and it also enables you to gain insight to how other people perceive the situation as well.
So I would really, really advise you to have a debrief following this sort of situation.
And if you are not offered one, then I would really advise you to ask for one. Every death is different.
And as you progress throughout your Nursing career, although it might be something that you are able to cope with and manage better, never just see it as part and parcel of Nursing.
Remember that you should always show compassion.
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Reflection Is Key
You should always show empathy and never lose that desire to get it right, reflect alone.
I think it's really, really good to give yourself some time away from people's thoughts, opinions, background noise, and to really just reflect on how you're feeling, how you're coping, what went well, what didn't go so well.
Reflecting can even be something as simple as journaling, go for a walk, you know, it's really, really important that you reflect on these situations because dealing with a dying patient can be extremely difficult, it can be extremely triggering, and it actually changes you as a person.
And it can also change your perception on things like how you view life, and it can even change your perception on Nursing in general.
So it's really, really important that you are continuously reflecting on your practice as well, because this will help you to deliver better results in the future.
Another thing that I would advise is that if you are struggling after dealing with a dying patient, I would really advise you to speak up.
Never feel like you are alone.
Never feel like your feelings are not valid.
You can speak with your tutors.
You can speak with your Nursing professionals that you are working with on placement, and you can still speak with your friends and your family.
As long as you are maintaining confidentiality, you don't necessarily have to explain what happened in that situation, but you are still allowed to talk about how you're feeling post this difficult circumstance and never feel like you should have to suffer alone.
Understand Your Role
It's really, really important that you are constantly speaking up if you are struggling.
So managing your expectations is key. Have an understanding of what is expected of you in your Nursing role, have an understanding of other people's professional roles within this situation and have an understanding of what the patient and their family expect from you.
It's really, really important that you communicate and that you all within your professional capabilities and roles, have an understanding of what is expected of you to ensure that you get this right.
And it can be difficult to communicate with families and patients in regards to such a sensitive topic, but it's really, really important that you have that discussion or that you ensure that somebody has had that discussion with the patient and their family so that everybody knows what is expected of them and what they need to do to make this difficult situation as smooth as possible.
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Engage With The Situation
So if you are a Student Nurse or you're a Newly Qualified Nurse, or even if you are a Nurse who has been way within their career, and you haven't been exposed to death within professional settings, I would advise that if that opportunity arises and you feel comfortable to do so, I would put yourself forward to be a part of this sort of difficult situation.
The last thing that you would want is to have to deal with this sort of situation and be completely unprepared.
And sometimes that does happen.
So if an opportunity arises where, you know, something like death is pre-empted and it's something that people know is going to happen, see if you can be a part of some sort of the process, whether it's the before, the afterwards, because it will really just help you to hone in on your skills.
And it will really just take a lot of pressure off when situations like that happen out of the blue as well.
Of course nothing can prepare you for dealing with a dying patient, but there are some steps that you can take to prepare you in advance.
And lastly, I would just remind you that although the outcomes in regards to dealing with a dying patient is not always favourable, just know that you did your best, and that can be really, really difficult to process.
And in a situation like this where the outcomes aren't favourable, it's hard to feel like you did your best, but it's really important to give yourself some grace.
And to know that you did your best with whatever circumstance you were in. And to just remember that every single situation that you are in is only gonna make you a better Nurse and that you're gonna be able to learn something and apply that when the next situation occurs.
I hope you found that helpful, thank you so much for watching.