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What does ‘being there’ mean in the context of nursing?
  1. Vicky Robinson, Consultant Nurse
  1. Vicky Robinson is Consultant Nurse in Palliative Care, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

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It is important for nurses to know themselves — their limitations, their ability to meet patients’ spiritual and psychological needs and where to turn if meeting those needs is problematic. The notion of ‘being there’ for patients is not a new concept. Palliative care literature often makes reference to this idea. The need for nurses to empathise, value, listen and build relationships with patients and their families is an imperative in all branches of nursing, but comes sharply into focus during the provision of end-of-life care.

Steve was a community palliative care nurse. He had been visiting Arthur, an 86-year-old widower and war veteran for a few weeks. Arthur had been referred for symptom control, plus psychological support. Arthur lived with his daughter. Steve liked Arthur. They supported rival London football teams and talked about football when Steve visited. Arthur’s daughter told Steve that she and her father were Catholic. Arthur’s physical symptoms were not difficult to address, …

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