Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist May 2012 Contents Australian Pharmacist May 2012 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 369
Rosie's story -- A carer's view
By Peter Waterman
Watching a loved one such as a parent
die in pain is a tremendously traumatic
experience. To watch two loved ones -- or
both parents -- die this way is devastating,
all the more so if the pain of those at
the end of their lives could have been
minimised or even avoided.
Nurse and Clinical Practice Consultant
Rosie Ranford went through just such
an experience with both her parents.
She knows that with the right health
professional help -- particularly that of
a pharmacist -- to support the carer or
family, the journey could have been made
easier for everyone involved.
'I looked after both my parents with
dementia. My mother took three and a
half years to die and she died at home
while my father had Alzheimer's and
took 10 years to die, also at home,'
Ms Ranford said.
'My mother used to get terrible migraines
and was also in terrible pain at times in
her last 12 weeks of life. While in hospital
one night she was visited by her niece
who called me saying 'Please come.
Nana is in terrible pain. She is holding her
head and screaming out.'
The niece had begged the nurses to
give her pain relief. The doctors had only
ordered paracetamol. It didn't work with
this type of pain. When Ms Ranford asked
for stronger pain relief she was taken
aside by a nurse and told, 'We're not here
to euthanise your mother.'
'I said, "I don't want her euthanised, I just
want her comfortable." There was no way
I wanted to end my mother's life; I just
didn't want her in pain.
'That is the battle you ght with end
stage dementia and when trying to get
medicines that are e ective in helping the
person who is dying to be comfortable.'
Ms Ranford said her father had
Alzheimer's and she cared for him at
home right to the end.
'Towards the end I could see he was
failing. I had some scripts for morphine
but I had never lled them. He had an
EACH Dementia package. One day the
registered nurse tore strips o me asking
how I was going to store this [morphine]
stock, saying I needed a locked box in my
house and so on,' she said.
'I had gone on a very long, emotional
journey with the loss of my mother and
now my father. So had the carers we
had -- some of them having been with
us for nearly eight years. I had trusted
them with my most treasured possessions
-- my parents. And now we came to a
situation where I was told I had to lock
everything up which was disrespectful to
everyone who had helped me care for my
mother and father.
'I never got the stock. It was just the way
I was treated that was so upsetting at a
very di cult time for me.'
Ms Ranford said she also had drops to
calm her father when he was agitated
and only used them once but when the
nurse saw the box, she suggested that
Ms Ranford could have endangered her
father as the drops could have reacted
with other medicines.
'She said that was why my father
was so sleepy. But he wasn't on any
other medicines by then and I said
to her, "He's not sleepy, he's dying."
For 30 minutes she tried to tell me he was
sleepy and not dying and I had done the
'I was in a distressed enough state as it
was, without being accused of doing the
wrong thing to someone I loved.'
Leading up to his death, her father had
been in great pain and was unable to
take anything for it either orally or as
suppositories. The Monday before he died
on the Friday, her father had a change
in his condition. He changed colour and
held his head and was rocking in the
chair back and forth, appearing to be in
pain. She called her father's local doctor
who told her to call a locum. The locum
provided her with a prescription for
'I went to a pharmacist to try to ll the
script. The pharmacist said it was an
unusual dosage and didn't have it so he
rang around and no local pharmacies
stocked it,' she said.
'The only one he could nd that stocked
it was about 30 minutes away and it was
8.30pm by now and they were closed.
I rang Palliative Care and asked them and
they told me of a pharmacy that stocked
it but by then it was closed as well.
'I lled it the next morning with a
pharmacist that deals with aged
care homes; they had the stock plus
they were very helpful, supportive
Ms Ranford said she believed having a
pharmacist trained in palliative care issues
would have helped greatly as they would
have better understood the needs of the
person dying in pain.
'That's my journey. If you had a
pharmacist, a palliative care pharmacist,
that could support you with that journey
it would help immensely because in my
experience GPs, locum GPs and registered
nurses don't necessarily have that
understanding,' she said.
'People dying of dementia in the
community are still pretty uncommon
and their carers and family need a lot
more support. The understanding of
people dying of dementia in a nursing
home is very, very di erent from the
understanding of people dying of
dementia in the community.
'A trained palliative care pharmacist could
make the world of di erence'.
(More on palliative care on page 412.)
Links Archive Australian Pharmacist June 2012 Australian Pharmacist April 2012 Navigation Previous Page Next Page