DVD offers practical tips and instruction for carers

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DVD offers practical tips and instruction for carers

The guide supports carers to learn practical, hands-on skills.

How frequently do you need to move someone to prevent pressure sores? How can you wash hair in bed? How do you safely push someone in a wheelchair down a ramp? Many new questions tend to arise when you’re caring for someone at the end of their life. Fortunately, there is also a free DVD that answers them.

“A guide for caring for people at the end of life” was developed in response to feedback from bereaved and current carers, according to East Grampians Health Services manager of community nursing, Jane Bourman.

“They felt they were well supported with the technical aspects of caring for someone at the end of life, like doing the subcutaneous injections or operating oxygen concentrations, but they were finding it hard to learn the more practical and hands-on aspects,” she said.

Central Grampians Palliative Care presented the guide at the Palliative Care Victoria conference in Melbourne recently, reminding palliative care services that they are welcome to rebrand the resource with their own logo and distribute it.

Mrs Bourman said the guide, which is also available on USB, has been distributed to about 50 carers since its launch about 12 months ago.

Jane Bourman.
Jane Bourman .

Drawing on the expertise of about 12 professionals who work in palliative care, it covers everyday care issues including how to use slide sheets to move someone safely on a bed, how to use a swivel seat to assist them into a car and to use a swivel bather to move them over bath. A dentist suggests placing a washer into the bottom of a sink while cleaning dentures, so they don’t crack if you drop them, and a dietitian offers tips on making meals more nutritious and appealing.

The guide is divided into sections, to ensure carers can watch specific sections when they become relevant. Aside from everyday care, it also has a section on planning ahead, which covers organising a funeral, financial support, advance care planning and accessing respite. A trouble shooting section covers nausea and vomiting, difficulty breathing, inability to sleep and restlessness and managing pain. A final section offers more general support for when death is near.

“Some things we weren’t sure about including, like planning a funeral. People wanted it in there, but they wanted to choose when they saw it, and the DVD enables them to do that when they’re ready,” Mrs Bourman said.

The DVD features carers, patients and health care professionals, including nurse Garry Tierney who has worked in palliative care for 14 years.

Mr Tierney, who is palliative clinical team leader with the East Grampians Heath Service, said carers sometimes don’t know what questions to ask when there is a health professional in the room.

“A need will come up in the middle or the night, or on the weekend, and they needed a guide to empower them to find that information out at their own pace, when they needed it.

“Sometimes when a health professional is visiting they can be given so much information they feel overloaded, so it’s about having it in the house so they can process it at their own pace.”

On the DVD he covers issues at the end of life, such as what bodily changes to expect during the natural process of dying.

To obtain a copy of the DVD, or organise to have copies rebranded with your service’s logo, email: cgpc@eghs.net.au