The significance of being able to provide compassionate care that eases the suffering of people in their last days cannot be overstated. Palliative care nurse practitioner, Karen Gower, takes us through some key aspects of providing care and comfort at end-of-life, and how to recognise and respond to signs and symptoms of discomfort or suffering.
Karen Gower was the clinical nurse manager of the Wesley Palliative Care Service from 2003 to 2013, having worked in oncology since 1989. In 2011, she completed a master of nursing science (nurse practitioner).
In 2013, Karen joined Blue Care, Metro North Community Service, as the first community nurse practitioner for Blue Care. She was fortunate to be part of a project funded through the department of health and ageing to ascertain if having a nurse practitioner working with the community domiciliary service would support palliative clients and their families to care for their family member at home. These clients were, generally, in the last three months of life due to a life-limiting illness. Working with the client’s GP and/or a specialist palliative care service at their treating hospital as part of an integrated service showed significant improvement in service provision and the position was supported to continue across Metro North once the project finished in 2015.
In 2015, Blue Care were fortunate to win a Metro North Queensland Health tender to provide community palliative care funded by Queensland Health. Family satisfaction surveys showed families felt supported to continue caring for their loved one at home and grateful to be able to fulfil their family members wish to remain at home. In 2017, Karen joined the Metro South Palliative Care Service Queensland Health, working part-time to deliver palliative care in the community. In 2019, she finished working with Blue Care and is enjoying working part-time at Metro South. It has been a privilege to journey with these clients and their families, enabling them to remain in their place of choice – whether that be in their own home or in hospital. See Educator Profile