Video builds carer confidence in giving injectable medications

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Video builds carer confidence in giving injectable medications

Medication is given through a Saf-T-Intima which delivers it just under the skin.

A new video is boosting the confidence of carers who need to draw up and administer injectable medications at home.

The video was designed for carers looking after someone at the end of life who may need to administer medication to control symptoms such as pain, nausea, vomiting, anxiety or terminal restlessness.

The video explains how to give medication to patients with a Saf-T-Intima that has been inserted by a health professional. The Intima delivers medication just under the skin where it is absorbed into the bloodstream.

The video walks carers through four phases, from assessing the patient’s symptoms and preparing to administer the medication, to giving it and documenting its effect. It is part of a carer package which includes a quick-guide, written instructions, and a sheet that documents medications and dosage details. Medications are ordered by a GP or nurse practitioner and the local palliative care team coordinates carer education.

“I found this information extremely helpful in giving me the confidence to give my husband his morphine and Maxolon.”

The Grampians Regional Palliative Care Team created the carer package with input from Deakin University medical students and trialled it across the region. Eastern Palliative Care participated in the research.

Project lead Regina Kendall said a small survey of carers who watched the video found that it was extremely useful.

“The feedback was that it was incredibly helpful when people couldn’t remember what the nurse had taught them previously, as the burden of caring for someone was very stressful,” said Ms Kendall, who is a nurse practitioner.

Regina Kendall
Nurse practitioner, Regina Kendall.

“They could put on the DVD and watch how to give the medication, which reduced their stress associated with giving an injection.”

One survey participant said, “I have never had to inject any medications or care for someone before and feel this will give me clear knowledge and confidence to do so”.

Another said, “I found this information extremely helpful in giving me the confidence to give my husband his morphine and Maxolon.”

Tips include how to remove medication from the neck of a glass ampule and snap it open, and how to use a needle to draw the medication into a syringe. It demonstrates how to remove the needle, attach the syringe to a port on the Saf-T-Intima and deliver the medication. This is followed by injecting a small amount of saline or water to wash any residual medication through the Saf-T- Intima’s tubing.

Ms Kendall said a significant proportion of the Grampians region did not have 24-hour access to on-call palliative care services. This made it important for carers to be empowered to proactively  manage end-of-life symptoms.

“We have people in very isolated areas where hospitals may be a two-hour drive away,” she said.

Ms Kendall said presenting the information in written and video formats catered to different learning styles. Eastern Palliative Care had the carer package translated into Chinese to cater to the needs of their local population.

Ms Kendall said the carer package would soon be submitted to the Victorian Palliative Care Clinical Network. She hoped it would be endorsed as a state-wide tool.

She said other palliative care services were welcome to contact her about accessing the carer package.