Last year, Kelly Christey, a registered nurse who spent her professional life helping others, became one of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse’s cancer patients at the age of 31. Through her experience as a patient and prior to her passing, Kelly identified a range of medical procedures that were in pressing need of improvement for the betterment of all cancer patients. As a direct result of Kelly’s feedback, we acknowledged that there were important lessons to be learnt and changes to medical procedures would need to be implemented. These changes include communication standards being elevated to a higher and more informative level and significant changes to medical practices to ensure respect, comfort, dignity and empathy are at the forefront of every patients experience of care at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.
With the above in mind, and as a direct result of Kelly’s feedback, the following initiatives have been undertaken.
Importance of compassion, communication and respect
Person-centred care relies on respect for patient decisions, compassion in our communication and our capacity to support the entire family and carers. This requires skill and consistency across all disciplines, and we are investing in all our staff to ensure a consistent experience and sense of trust underpins all aspects of our care.
Prompt and appropriate pain relief
Essential to comfort and quality of life is pain relief, as such the importance of being able to provide this quickly has resulted in our expansion of our bedside secure medication protocols enabling nurses to react quickly at the bedside to reduce the development of uncontrolled pain. Uncontrolled pain is escalated for senior clinical review to ensure the most appropriate regimen is considered.
Managing the side effects of medications and the subsequent complications
An equally important part of healthcare is to foresee and minimize known side effects of required treatment, as these can develop and add to the patient’s situation. Constipation is a common complication related to some pain-relieving medications and if not managed can lead to severe pain and complications which require early identification and intervention.
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse has established a multidisciplinary team with this particular focus to ensure we provide patient education, a program of skills and competencies for our nursing staff and a clinical review and escalation program involving key personnel. The goal of this process is to ensure these basic principles form part of daily assessment and care.
Sadly, during her stay at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and her short duration at home, Kelly experienced severe pain and discomfort.
It was of paramount importance to Kelly, as a nurse, that as a result of her experience whilst in our care, the lessons learnt will help make lasting changes in the care of others.
With thanks and in memory of Kelly Christey.