For many years, pain control has been a high priority in hospital settings. Caregivers are always looking for ways to better help hospital patients who are experiencing severe, uncontrolled pain. But it can be complicated.
Many patients are not comfortable using narcotic medications at all, given the potential for dependence on or addiction to the medication. For some people, narcotic medications lead to nausea – and medications to treat nausea can mean even more side effects. In addition, uncontrolled pain itself can cause nausea.
The nurses of the oncology med-surg unit at Mercy Health – Fairfield Hospital tackled this thorny problem with a process that included introducing more pain treatments that don’t rely on medication. Simple tools such as music, coloring activities and aromatherapy were able to help patients feel relief and distraction from their pain, reducing their need for pain medications.
“[Florence] Nightingale profoundly stated that the goal of nursing ‘is to put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him,’” shares Tina Vance, BSN, RN. “My intention and the delivery of holistic, person-centered care is a means of placing the patient in just such a position.”
Tina, who is working toward a master’s degree in homeopathic medicine, says that she strives to create a connection by addressing the patient’s body, mind and spirit.
“Aromatherapy may seem as simple as a distraction from the patient’s current experience. It is the intention and presence in the utilization of aromatherapy that can create such beneficial experience in which body, mind and spirit needs are looked after. This ultimately creates a synergy in which healing may blossom,” she shares.
The nurses also found that a technique known as healing touch could be an effective tool. With this technique, nurses gently touch or move their hands over the patient in a heart-centered, intentional way that supports physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.
“As nurses we must find therapies and solutions that coexist with medicinal regimes,” explains Tina. “Finding alternatives besides narcotic use allows us to know our patients better, improve their healing processes and impact their disposition in a timely manner. We have found that it not only helps with pain management, but also on a psychosocial level while creating a sense of happiness, peace and a sense of home for patients that have despair or are in an altered mental state.”
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