Syringe Driver Management

Te Omanga Hospice – Syringe Driver Use in Palliative Care

Patients and Family Caregivers Understandings and Experiences

Executive Summary

This study has provided insights about the use of a Syringe Driver to relieve symptoms in palliative care from direct conversations with 27 people (12 patient/family caregiver couples and 3 caregivers) experiencing palliative care as a patient or as a family caregivers. Without exception using a Syringe Driver made a very positive difference in all their lives at this precious time. In particular the swift relief of symptoms achieved when they were able to receive the prescribed medications changed their lives immeasurably. As Geoff said “It gave me life!”

This study highlights the need for all Palliative Care Practitioners to listen to and to learn from patients and their families about what is most meaningful for them at this time.

Patients and their family caregivers declared “Don’t wait until we are struggling”. Consider using a Syringe Driver when swift control of distressing symptoms is required. This may be a temporary measure that can be repeated if needed. This may be a final intervention as life passes and families grieve, knowing their person made the transition from life to death with all the care and consideration possible. This could likely involved reviewing perhaps long held practices based on clinical directives.

The directives from this study come directly from the words of those most intimately involved: patients and their family caregivers receiving palliative care. It may invoke a renewed reflection about conversations with people who are dying. To listen and learn.

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