Examining Clinical Supervison with Palliative Care Nurses
Dixon, Elizabeth May
This study focuses on the current issues regarding the provision of clinical supervision for palliative care nurses. NICE (2004) recommendations stated that the task of supervision should be undertaken by „Level 4‟ practitioners such as clinical psychologists or psychiatrists. Palliative care nurses are recognised to experience high levels of stress due to the emotionality of their role. However there appears to be little understanding of how they cope with this aspect of their role. Self care is promoted as a useful strategy; however this is thought to have limitations due to the questionable ability for an individual to objectively and accurately assess their own mental and emotional state. Clinical supervision has been attempted with palliative care nurses but this appears to focus on the internal world of the nurse rather than the interaction between nurse and patient. This study employed a staff survey, including a demographic questionnaire, the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory and the General Health Questionnaire, followed by individual interviews and focus groups analysed using thematic content analysis. Participants were recruited from two teams within one cancer network. Results showed that there was an incidence of both high stress and psychiatric morbidity within the sample. Provision of clinical supervision was shown to be inconsistent across the two teams. Although there was recognition that clinical supervision would be beneficial, there was a certain amount of confusion regarding the concept as well as suspicion about the „real‟ agenda. These factors appeared to work together to produce a situation in which clinical supervision was not being provided or accepted in a way that would maximise its efficacy as its application was inconsistent with the theoretical basis. In conclusion, in order to better support palliative care nurses with the difficult aspects of their role, it was suggested that a more structured and consistent picture of clinical supervision was provided. This would enhance their practice, support their emotional needs and protect the patients under their care.