Ria on being a Palliative Care Discharge Nurse

Published: 02 March 2020
A photograph of Ria, Macmillan Palliative Care Support Nurse.

Ria works as a Palliative Care Discharge Nurse. She supports people living with cancer to come to terms with their short-term prognosis and assists with end of life care. She is there to provide emotional support to patients and facilitates them to die where they wish, whether at home, in a hospital or a hospice.

'I’m here to help people understand their options.'

As a Palliative Care Discharge Nurse, I realise how important it is for a patient to die in the place of their choice, wherever that may be. I work to find the necessary funding to help do so. It is my role to work with patients on advanced planning, establishing their wishes as early as possible to ensure they are fulfilled.

I have always wanted to be a nurse and while I was doing my training, I lost a close friend to cancer. My friend was well looked after by cancer and palliative nurses before she passed away in hospital, which is where she wished to die. It was one of the reasons why I decided to specialise in end of life care – to make sure that others received that same level of support.

On an average day, I can support up to ten people living with cancer. I assess each patient through a Holistic Needs Assessment to gain insight into their physical and emotional well-being, before drawing up a care plan tailored to their needs. We have discussions about their wishes and expectations and I try to be as clear, open and realistic with them around their prognosis as possible.

I provide emotional support to families in the same way. For some people, it can be very difficult for them to talk about or accept that their loved one is dying, so I try to encourage open conversations as much as possible.

My role is a Macmillan professional is so vital to end of life care. Many people I speak to weren’t aware of their options, and that’s what I’m here to do – to help them understand their options and give them access to the right support.