In commemoration of International Nurses Day, we take a moment to acknowledge the extraordinary contributions of nurses who play a crucial role in providing compassionate care to individuals during their end-of-life journey.
In Australia, three out of four people require palliative care before they pass away, the role of nurses becomes even more significant.
Nursing shortages have been a significant issue in Australia for several years, and the situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The demand for healthcare services in Australia has increased due to the ageing population and the rising incidence of chronic diseases.
At the same time, the number of registered nurses and nursing graduates has not kept pace with this increasing demand.
Amidst these challenges, nurses like Kellie Bradley have been at the forefront of providing exceptional care in the field of palliative care. As a Nurse Consultant for Palliative Aged Care at Palliative Care South East (PCSE), Kellie has dedicated herself to supporting individuals and their families through their end-of-life journey.
We had the privilege of speaking with Ms Bradley, who shared her insights and experience, shedding light on the profound impact nurses have in this specialised area.
Ms Bradley emphasised “The holistic approach adopted by nurses ensures that individuals receive comprehensive care that upholds their dignity and quality of life until the very end,” says Ms Bradley.
Ms Bradley’s journey into nursing began when she took a graduate position in oncology at Box Hill Hospital. It was there that she discovered her passion for palliative care, eventually leading her to work in the palliative care unit of a major hospital.
Fuelling her commitment to this specialised field, Kellie pursued postgraduate qualifications in palliative care and dementia care. Currently, she is completing her Masters to become a Nurse Practitioner, furthering her impact in the realm of palliative care.
“The role of nurses in palliative care is unique and special,” Ms Bradley emphasises. “We perceive our role very much around working with clients and families collaboratively, responding to their needs, and empowering them during this difficult time in their lives to promote their quality of life.”
When asked about memorable moments in her career, Ms Bradley reflects on the importance of achieving and promoting the quality of life for every client. “Every client is important to me, and a standout for me is helping them achieve their end-of-life goals, whatever they may be. That, to me, is a job well done—empowering them and ensuring their dignity is noted.”
Nurses in palliative care go above and beyond their role by extending their support to not only the patient but also their families. Recognising that the journey towards the end of life affects the entire family unit, these compassionate nurses prioritise the emotional well-being of loved ones. They understand that families often need a listening ear, a comforting presence, and guidance during this challenging time.
Families are a significant focus for Ms Bradley in her role as a palliative care nurse. “Supporting families, particularly in terms of their emotional well-being, is crucial. It’s important to step into their shoes, listen to them, and ensure they feel supported in ways that resonate with them,” she says. Kellie highlights the multidisciplinary approach to palliative care, collaborating with talented professionals to provide comprehensive support and services.