Registered and Enrolled Nurses

Registered and Enrolled Nurses

Registered Nurses and Enrolled Nurses will be directly involved in providing palliative care in aged care. Their role includes:

  • providing leadership and direction to care workers
  • liaising with families
  • coordinating service delivery from GPs, allied health, palliative care teams and acute care
  • carrying out needs assessments and planning and reviewing care.

Nurses in residential aged care or home-based care may not have direct access to palliative care specialists on-site. Like many other primary care health providers, they will continue to simultaneously provide rehabilitative and supportive care to residents’ who are not dying and end-of-life care to those residents who are dying. [1]

Staffing structures and work systems in residential aged care have been designed to promote wellness, quality of life and prevention of harm in a home like environment. This means they may not have been specifically designed to support palliative care. [2]

The ability of nurses in aged care to implement effective palliative care may be influenced by many factors. Some of these are listed below:

System / organisation factors

  • Staffing levels and expertise
  • Management support for palliative care, education and training
  • Physical structures, privacy, space for family to stay, meeting rooms for family conference
  • Lack of resources to support family eg, grief and bereavement counselling
  • Access to GP support and after hours pharmacy for medication changes

Knowledge / skills

  • Feeling comfortable and confident in discussing death and dying and end-of-life care
  • Difficulty in assessing needs of residents with cognitive impairment
  • Recognising dying and knowing when to implement palliative care
  • Concerns about administering analgesia

Family / resident / client

  • Knowing when it may be inappropriate or difficult for family to discuss resident’s dying for cultural reasons
  • The resident/client or family wanting to continue with active care that may not be beneficial
  • Family not being comfortable making decisions about care or not knowing what the person would have wanted.

Interview with Bronwyn Agars - Restvale.

The important role nurses play in providing good end of life care for older people - Larissa McIntyre.

Page last updated 05 June 2020

  • References

  • Find out more

  • Related palliAGED pages