"The information that I gained from these modules has completely changed my thinking on how palliative care can be used and integrated into the care and management of my patients with symptomatic chronic disease and not reserved only for the end of their life."

Continuing Education » Module 5 Overview

Module 5: End-Stage Disease and Family Education

  • Jennifer Fournier RN MSN AOCN CHPN


Nurses caring for patients, who are living and dying from advanced disease, do so from the perspective of understanding and appreciating the unique experience it brings to each patient and his or her family. While similarities do exist in the dying process, it is important for the nurse to acknowledge the differences that exist between disease pathophysiology, pharmaceutical metabolism, culture, gender, religious, and spiritual components and how all of these influence clinical decision making.

Nurses providing care for patients at the end-of-life require knowledge and skills that address the complex needs that encompass the whole person. Patients facing life's end live with the memories of the life they have lived. These memories include past experiences, strengths, weaknesses, different degrees of spirituality, and possible unwritten life chapters. The nurse who is skilled in palliative care is able to provide the patient and family with tools to engage in end-of-life care planning and also assist in the management of symptoms that promote optimal quality of life.

The nurse who anticipates and monitors the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual symptoms that often accompany the dying process can accomplish these goals. The nurse can help to identify unresolved emotional or spiritual issues, and inform the family/caregivers about changes in the patient's condition. The nurse who practices within an interdisciplinary team is better prepared to support the patient and family in a healthy dying experience and prevent a crisis-like event. Attempting to normalize the dying process is not only important for the patient, but also for loved ones - the manner in which a person dies will forever remain in the memories of the survivors impacting upon their grief and bereavement (Kanacki, Roth, Georges, & Herring, 2012; Revier, Meiers, & Herth, 2012).

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module, the reader will be able to:

  1. Describe the "normal" physiological response to the dying process
  2. Identify common symptoms, which occur during the last days and hours of life.
  3. Examine how the nurse can support the family during the dying process.

Average Test Duration: 1.0 hr

  1. Begin End-Stage Disease and Family Education Module
  2. Take Test