This week is National Nursing Week and we’re celebrating the incredible nurses that care for children and families on our program.
We employ the equivalent of 45 full time pediatric palliative specialist nurses who provide care for over 190 complex diseases and conditions. Our specialized care team operates thirteen patient beds and eight family suites in both our hospices in Vancouver and Abbotsford, as well as care for families at home through the Enhanced Community Care Program and a provincial 24-Hour Clinical Care Line that families can use anytime.
The theme once again this year is #WeAnswerTheCall, which is what our nurses do every single day. Our Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists and Nurses are highly trained professionals in the specialized field of pediatric palliative care nursing. They provide assessment, pain and symptom management, care planning, and follow-up support for children and families living with life-limiting illnesses.
We sat down with Registered Nurse, Dianna Chudy, who has been with Canuck Place for over thirteen years. Here’s what she had to say about her work as a Registered Nurse.
Can you tell us what a typical nursing shift looks like?
I start a shift and have a nursing handover where a nurse from the previous shift will tell us what is currently happening with the children in house and who we’re following in the community. It focuses specifically on what has happened in the previous 12 hours and addresses any care tasks that need completing. The rest of my shift is spent familiarizing myself with the child’s and family’s care, utilizing our care plans and by talking with my colleagues and the family. The focus of our work is often involving some level of pain and symptom management, so knowing the children and families well helps assess the efficacy of our treatments and their effects. At the end of my shift I pass off the new information I’ve obtained with trust that my colleagues will continue the standard of care that the families deserve.
When thinking about a Canuck Place family who has made a significant impact on you. What are some of the little things that you did to attune to the family? How did it make a difference for them? How do you get to know the kids and families in your care? And why is that important to the work that you do?
I think authenticity is key to all interactions. Every person at Canuck Place brings something forward when interacting with our families. For myself, I tend to employ humour and “nerdiness” to get to know families. This has been met with varying degrees of success over the years. What makes Canuck Place wonderful is that every clinical member has a different “flavor” to how they interact. If some families resonate more with a grandmotherly warmth, sarcasm and humour, quiet empathy, spiritualism or athleticism (the list goes on), there’s a clinical member here that can meet them in that place. I think that when families feel “seen” not just as parents going through a loss or as a child living with a life limiting illness, but as whole people then they’re reclaiming a part of themselves that the medical system can unfortunately, strip away.
Nurses at Canuck Place help to create a healing environment where our families feel accepted, empowered and treated with dignity and respect. What are some specific ways that you help children and families feel safe, empowered, heard, and respected?
As an outside witness to the internal struggles within a family I think one of our most honoured roles is to act as an advocate and mediator when the situation calls for it. That’s acting as an advocate within our health care system, based on what the families have themselves identified.
As a mediator; there’s often so much love and complexity within a family unit that it can be hard to hear one another especially in times of stress, and to be able to gently reflect back what is being said at the right moment, so that it can really be heard, can have very powerful effects.
As a caregiver, how do you care for yourself? Where do you get support from?
Jogging, my dog, and travel. I’m lucky to say that my colleagues are also my friends. Many a time when I’ve struggled, just talking to them and sharing the burden makes it a little easier to carry. Also having a great girlfriend who listens AND can make a stiff cocktail is definitely a plus – that’s a little free dating advice for all our readers!
How do your fellow co-workers empower you?
An easier question to answer is how DON’T they empower me?! Canuck Place really is a family. If I didn’t have the support, knowledge, understanding, humour, kindness, and work ethic of all these amazing humans around me, this work I do would be an unmovable boulder I’d be trying to push uphill, alone. With all of us, it’s just a stepping stone.
In honour of National Nursing Week, from May 9-15, we are spotlighting just a few of our wonderful nurses. Follow along to meet and learn a little more about them.
To support the incredible care of kids and families at Canuck Place, give at canuckplace.org/donate.