Disseminating good palliative care practice using a public health approach
Like a number of the pioneering nurses, nursing was in Terry’s blood. His mother was and remains a nurse and the family lived on the hospital campus. From a young age Terry would accompany his mother onto the wards and this fed his youthful dream of becoming a doctor. It was only a change in personal circumstances that saw Terry switch his focus to nursing. After completing his qualifications he progressed to a master’s in public health which included research in palliative care.
Needing to find a specialism, Terry applied for an internship at the Institute of Palliative Medicine in Kerala and, over the course of the four-month internship, developed a passion for it. In fact, he’s never looked back.
After spending some time on the home care emergency community team, Terry moved into an education role at the faculty. There, he has truly found his vocation. This is demonstrated by his work leading on a manual for nurses working in home care for low- and medium-income countries which has just been published. For 18 months he liaised on this guide with colleagues in institutions around the world with whom he has developed close working relationships.
Terry is also involved in a major research project, to develop a culturally sensitive tool to capture the dying experience in Kerala.
Terry, in the short time he has worked in palliative care has made a significant impact to nursing in India. He has not been afraid to reach out to individuals and institutions across the world in his quest to develop an end of life care manual for his counterparts in other developing countries
What drives you to make a difference?
When asked what inspires him and helps him to keep going Terry says how his faith is integral to his work and underpins his innate value in humanity.
How do we see the art and science of nursing expressed?
Coming late to palliative care, after years working as a general nurse, Terry found he had to ‘unlearn’ much of what he had previously understood nursing to be. He soon learned to understand and appreciate that it’s the voice of the patient and their family that nurses should be listening to first and foremost and that this is what should inform any clinical decisions.
Terry says that for the first time as a nurse he began to see the potential in the role. That by taking control and making good decisions on the basis of a patient’s wishes, you can have a positive impact on their care. He also began to enjoy the sense of responsibility, freedom and autonomy, that came from only meeting with doctors maybe once a month. This made Terry and his colleagues feel more valued and respected.
How can nurses strengthen their leadership and impact?
When asked what he sees as the future ambitions for his nursing colleagues in India he is absolutely clear and passionate. He says: “Nurses must take on leadership at every level and India must invest in professional development to help nurses develop independent informed thinking so they can to take up such roles.”