Long before hospice palliative care became a nursing specialty practice, Terry Webber was advocating strongly for this kind of patient and family-centered care. She is a trailblazer who has a real passion for helping her patients and their families cope with end-of-life care. She has helped countless nurses to provide effective, compassionate care in facilities as well as in home care, making even seemingly impossible situations manageable.
Terry found her calling in nursing long ago, taking up her first positions as a nurse’s aide at local hospitals and private care facilities around White Rock, BC in the 1970s. Today she serves as a Hospice Palliative Care Clinician, providing primary assessment, triage and coordination of referrals to the Hospice Palliative Care Program as well as direct care to palliative care patients and their families. She works closely with the HPC Consultation team and has carried out her duties throughout BC’s Lower Mainland in Surrey, Delta/ Ladner, White Rock and Langley. Prior to this position, she worked in Long Term Care Case Management in the Newton, Langley and Gateway Home Health office, supporting geriatric clients with chronic and palliative illnesses, also addressing their families’ many related needs. In each of these positions in Fraser Health, she has been a tireless caregiver and innovative problem solver.
“Terry has an exceptional ability to navigate relationships in complex, highly emotional times, identifying the goals and needs of patients and families and using that to guide a care plan oriented to the individual,” says Clinical Nurse Specialist Della Roberts. “She is an expert, able to triage, assess, guide and support patients as they transfer from acute care to home, hospice, tertiary or residential care. She also builds capacity in the primary care providers in these settings.”
Nursing care in this setting requires a strong ethical background to anchor effective practice. Roberts recalls a challenging situation where a mother of a younger woman with advancing dementia was calling for critical care interventions, ongoing tube feeding and IV antibiotics when her daughter was in her last weeks of dying from brain failure. “Terry was a key resource at this time, respecting the values and beliefs of the distressed mother, while acknowledging the moral challenge. She supported the inter-professional team to provide care for this mother and her daughter.”
Terry’s talents really come to the fore in complex care situations. “Terry has a genuine understanding and empathy for people and is an advocate not only for patients and families, but often for the staff members involved,” says colleague Sharon Duncan. “She has become a widely-admired mentor and I know of nurses in hospital who have been so inspired by Terry’s nursing practice that they have elected to pursue careers in palliative nursing.”
Terry exemplifies integrity, advocacy and clinical skills — whose enthusiasm and openness in her work are appreciated by patients and fellow caregivers alike.