Compassionate end of life care: team helped our family cope ‘at worst time of our lives’

Ward managers Rosily Padayathil and Muzit Ghebreab have been nominated for the 2021 Patient’s Choice award

Pictured: Ward Manager Muzit Ghebreab

A team of nurses who ‘did everything they could to ease the pain’ for two sisters when their mother was at the end of life have been nominated for the Patient’s Choice award in the 2021 RCN Nursing Awards.

Ward managers Rosily Padayathil and Muzit Ghebreab were nominated by Ms Waffa Girshab – herself a senior research nurse – for the outstanding way they took care of her mother at Whipps Cross Hospital in London, part of Barts Health NHS Trust

Compassionate care for the family as well as the patient

‘They built a relationship of complete trust with us,’ says Ms Girshab, whose mother was admitted to the Curie Ward with advanced illness after being diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Ms Girshab said her mother’s illness was not within the ward’s specialty and she had been admitted there because there was no other bed available at the hospital.

‘We were devastated when the doctors informed the family she was dying, but every member of the team provided such compassionate care. Mum was severely agitated and delirious and either my sister or I was allowed to stay with her.

'Each and every staff member treated us with such love, from the housekeeper who would get custard from the canteen because it was the only thing my mother would eat to the courteous cleaner whose conversations distracted me from the situation, along with each and every nurse, nursing associate and nursing student we met.

'I feel blessed to have had such wonderful, caring nurses there with us at the worst time of our lives'

Waffa Girshab, patient's daughter

‘Ms Ghebreab and Ms Padayathil were fantastic leaders who created that culture and I could see they supported their staff when they were unsure with some of mum’s care.’

‘They went above and beyond their role,’ she says. ‘They stopped to listen and tried to calm mum down and talk to her gently even when she was hysterical. They always checked on me, offering me breaks when mum was asleep, as she became very agitated when she was awake and didn’t have someone she recognised nearby.’

Read about the rest of our Patient's Choice finalists below, or click here to vote

Support continued on the palliative care ward

The nurses sat and spoke to Ms Girshab about her mum, asking her to share happy memories. ‘My sister liked to give mum a bed bath when she took over in the evening. No one complained about it being the wrong time. They just helped with a smile on their faces. Nothing was a bother.’

When Ramadan started the nurses helped the family clean their mother and tidy her room. ‘The night nurse would give me tea before I began fasting in the morning and they would sit with mum so I was able to break my fast with my family.’

The family eventually moved to the palliative care ward, where their mother died a few days later. ‘Ms Ghebreab would come and say hello every day to reassure us it was the right decision, because we were worried about leaving the ward,’ says Ms Girshab.

‘I don’t know how we would have managed without them, and although it was a heartbreaking time I feel blessed to have had such wonderful, caring nurses there with us at the worst time of our lives. Even though it was not something they were used to, you could tell that they wanted to do their absolute best for us when we were in a terrible situation.’

Voting for the Patient’s Choice award is now open. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on 12 October.

Elaine Cole is RCNi special projects editor

The Patient’s Choice award is sponsored by nursing uniform provider Alexandra