Embedding a palliative approach in nursing care delivery

From emergency rooms to community clinics, nurses play a vital role in the delivery of health services. A palliative approach can help patients and families manage the implications of life-limiting conditions.

People living with chronic life-limiting conditions often have complex needs and receive care from health professionals in many different settings. Nurses play a significant role in caring for this population, and while some nurses are palliative care specialists, conventional nursing care is focused on curing rather than supporting patients and families to manage the implications of a life-limiting condition.

MSFHR award recipient Dr. Richard Sawatzky and his team of BC-researchers, decided to address this by studying the notion of ‘a palliative approach’ and how it can help embed the principles and practices of palliative care into the broader health care system. Their latest research is published in Advances in Nursing Science.

The paper is an integrated knowledge synthesis, drawing on a broad body of knowledge about palliative approaches and their application across a variety of health care settings. It highlights that:

  • To be more responsive to the needs of patients who have chronic life-limiting conditions, the values and principles of a palliative approach must be embedded in nursing care delivery.
  • Practical support for a palliative approach is necessary but can only be implemented in concert with fundamental values that are in keeping with a palliative approach.

Lead author Dr. Sawatzky states, “We hope that, in addition to contributing to an understanding of a palliative approach, the article will spark further discourse about effective methodologies for particularizing general knowledge within local contexts of everyday nursing practice.”

Dr. Sawatzky’s research was funded through iPANEL, The Initiative for a Palliative Approach in Nursing: Evidence and Leadership. It was one of the programs MSFHR ran from 2008-2016 as part of the the BC Nursing Research Initiative (BCNRI), established by MSFHR to support research related to BC’s nursing workforce and addresses issues affecting nursing practice. Although BCNRI funding, an $8 million dedicated grant from the Ministry of Health, has come to an end, the initiative continues to have a positive impact on nursing research in BC.

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