Article Text

Preparing carers to look after palliative care patients at home
  1. Julie O’Neill, Ward Manager
  1. Julie O’Neill is Ward Manager, Nuffield Ward, St Christopher’s Hospice, London. Email: j.oneill{at}


Nurses are responsible for the holistic care of patients admitted to their wards. This includes care of families and significant others who provide informal care for patients at home. ‘Informal carers’ have a variety of needs, often wishing to continue the care of their relative/close friend upon discharge. It is essential that nurses prepare carers for this role. A review of the literature has found that informal carers want advice regarding symptom control, an opportunity to have a break from caring, and to have access to someone outside the family with whom to talk. This article discusses issues important to the informal carers of people with terminal disease. It demonstrates that nurses require awareness of carers’ individual experience and needs regarding maintenance of the welfare of patients at home. It is not the intention of the article to discuss specific practical details relating to discharge planning. Instead it examines the phenomenon of being a carer, the information requirements of informal carers, and how nurses should respond to the needs of carers. Conflicts of interest: none

  • Informal carers
  • End-of-life care
  • Palliative care
  • Patient discharge
  • Respite care

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