Finalist for the Patient's Choice Award 2022
Specialist Information and Support Nurse, Compassion in Dying
Elizabeth Pepper has nominated specialist information and support nurse Sarah Malik for the advanced care planning that ensured her husband had a good death
‘Sarah Malik is a life-changer! There have been a number of occasions when either my late husband or I have needed to be supported by, guided by, informed and counselled by her.
Without Ms Malik’s compassion, empathy, knowledge and understanding, neither my husband nor I would have begun and then persevered in writing our individual Advanced Decision to Refuse Treatment. At his death, I learned just how critical it is to have this document in place.
In 2019 when my husband, who had Parkinson’s, wanted to write an Advanced Decision statement, but I could only cry and didn’t want him to, it was Ms Malik to whom we both turned. She gently and empathetically reassured and guided us both.
We would phone and phone again with anxieties and questions but she patiently helped us arrive at a consensus. My husband got his Advanced Decision and Ms Malik helped me to recognise that my concurrence wasn’t giving up on him, I was actually supporting and empowering him. She knew so much too, about what happens at death, and in different places, including hospitals – vital information she shared with enormous sensitivity.
The value of this essential document was revealed when my husband was at the end of life in 2020 and the GP wanted to send him to hospital. This was the complete opposite to my husband’s wishes as he wanted to die at home. This document – and Ms Malik – gave me the backbone to make a stand. If he had gone to hospital it would have been a dreadful end of life as it was not the one he wanted and he had lost all control. Instead, he was able to die at home, just as he wanted to.
I again spoke to Ms Malik. I was bereaved and angry at the way my husband’s wishes could have been overruled but, again, I found such comfort in her informality, openness and empathy. She always treats you as if you are the only person on her list that day.
Recently, I have been reflecting on my own Advanced Decision and, once again, I turn to Ms Malik for the insightfulness, empathy and endless patience she offers. She is so very worthy of recognition.