It’s interesting to reflect on the past 3 years and how the pandemic has changed the vernacular for what is effective for sustaining and adapting to change. Each day or week in our workplace we were changing policies and procedures as they were mandated through IPAC or the Ministry on how to provide safe and competent care.
I agree with many of you that it is difficult to allocate one trait that is superior above the rest, but adaptable to change is one that resonates most with me at the moment. Providing palliative care under a mask and goggles was surreal in the beginning and now we have all had to accept the fact that when our patients are at their most vulnerable, we are relying on our verbal expressions to relay comfort and compassion in their final moments. It is a struggle with some of our dementia patients as they can be easily calmed with a smile instead of the scared look that sometimes occurs when a Nurse walks in gowned up trying to maintain an environment of calm and serenity. One of the most positive temporary changes was that our music therapist was able to be on our unit fulltime. This allowed legacy work and an extra person that could be at the bedside to provide comfort and time more often than pre-pandemic. We have been fortunate to have at least allowed essential caregivers at the bedside, but we have also noticed a trend that patient’s are trying to stay at home for as long as possible before coming into palliative care, so that they can have as many family members with them for as long as possible. The terminology used to describe essential caregiver has been paramount in allowing patients to have whomever they consider their tribe to be with them in their final moments.