“Carers (whether it be family or not) play a vital role in also caring for my patients, they will always know more than me about my patient…”
Please meet Kelly, she is an award winning passionate nurse who is warm, caring and incredibly funny! Kelly trained an adult learner to become a qualified nurse. She has worked with people of all ages and walks of life. She cares deeply for her patients and their loved ones. I happened to go to high school with Kelly and we met again the day my step-mum was diagnosed with breast cancer some five years ago.
Her words are incredibly pertinent with and has some interesting insights for us all. Cassie x
Please tell us about yourself and how you support or work with carers.
I am a nurse currently working within cancer services for a major metropolitan acute adult hospital. I work in an outpatient area, providing support – the term support covers many aspects of care – but briefly this includes; toxicity, medication and treatment management, emotional & psychosocial support for cancer sufferers receiving radiotherapy as part of their cancer treatment regime. As the largest radiation oncology department in Adelaide we treat on average 120 patients per day, we have treated children as young as a few months old right up to the geriatric age group. A patient’s treatment intent can be “radical” with the intent of remission – life preservation, or palliative – life extending or symptom control for end of life care.
Can you share the most rewarding and the most challenging parts of your role?
The most rewarding part of my job is being able to feel as though I can or have made a difference in the life of one of my patients or their families/care givers. Working with patients that are facing life and death has a massive impact on my own life and the appreciation I have for the little things – I often say my patients give me much more than I have or will ever give be able to give them!
Challenges in my role are probably mostly centred on policy and development – RED TAPE! Financial obstacles working within the government health sector etc. etc. etc.!!
Can you provide some insight from your perspective in what it is like to work with carers and what makes this relationship work well as opposed to those that don’t work so well?
MUTUAL RESPECT! The term respect is often chucked around with very little meaning these days but when working with families and the carers of my clients mutual respect is very important.
Carers (whether it be family or not) play a vital role in also caring for my patients, they will always know more than me about my patient or their oved one and they provide a greater amount of care than I will, leaving them far more “qualified” in many aspects of patient care.
In saying this, that respect must be reciprocated and sometimes our greatest challenge is getting a carer to accept that times change, science changes and evidence changes – meaning treatment changes and in an acute setting we are often more aware and educated within this area and by working together we can provide a wonderful holistic approach to our patients care.
What are the absolute essentials that a carer should be aware of when advocating for the person they are caring for? In your opinion, how can they do this successfully?
Know who to contact – research, find out, search for the best person, and place or department to deal with and start there.
“You will always get much further with sugar than you will with salt” – emotions can run high when dealing with loved ones and advocacy issues, emotional situations allow for tension and situations often “blow out”. The carers’ intentions are always good sometimes it’s just the execution.
If you don’t get the response you want, keep asking!!! – keep asking till you get that response multiple times, then you will know that is the response! Not everyone has the same training and knowledge so what someone says no to, another will often say yes or vice versa!
What would your top tips be to a carer or parent of a child that is newly diagnosed?
ASK, TALK, AND LISTEN!
Ask – everything – there is no silly question, ask for resources, ask for help, ask for education, and ask for supports.
Talk – talk to any one that will listen, and remember even when people say the wrong thing – their intentions are good, they just don’t know any better – tell them better!
Listen – this is the hard one! The world is in a spin at diagnosis and it can be particularly difficult to take it all in but many things get missed by you the carer and also by us as health providers (we are human too) and miscommunication makes further relationships and consultations difficult.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I have a little saying that sits on my locker at work and reminds me of the difference I can and am making and I think the same can be said for carers;
“I didn’t choose nursing it chose me”
About Kelly in her own words:
I am 38 – well nearly. I Live with my amazing hubby of 19 years Tim aged 40 (next week) time to trade him in, he’s well out of warranty!
And my greatest achievement our daughter Adele aged 11 years old. As a family we enjoy travelling, and camping! Both of these things are important aspects of my life, being a busy working family it’s really important we get away and have some good quality time together.
We enjoy rolling the swags out on the beach and getting back to nature for a few solitary days without electricity, phones, TV etc. but then we also like to have a family holiday each year visiting family overseas or sitting by a pool in a fancy resort relaxing. Balance is important, and working with cancer patients has shown me that life is too short so enjoy it!!
I am ferociously protective of those I love, don’t suffer fools well and have a high intolerance for laziness and people that are unable to see the good in life. I avoid negativity, conflict, anger, sadness and anything that does not enrich my life with happiness – and yes I believe in rainbows and unicorns J I am happy, talkative… way to chatty and love nothing more than a great BBQ, with a few quiet chardys, the football and my friends and family.
I trust you enjoyed Kelly’s perspective. If you would like to share your story, please click the green button below.