A hospice nurse is a registered nurse who is specially educated to work with hospice care patients nearing their end-of-life. By working as a case manager and advocating for the wants and needs of their patients, these nurses play a special role in the hospice care program. In this article, we will review what nurses do, why they are vital to hospice care and how they can benefit your loved one.
What Does A Hospice Nurse Do?
A hospice nurse is a professional nurse who has been educated and trained to work in settings that would otherwise take an emotional toll on those who are not prepared. This training and education equips them with the knowledge and experience necessary to work closely with terminally ill patients who many be nearing their end of life. In addition, rather than providing remedial treatment (as a conventional nurse would), a nurse will focus on attending to the wants, needs and care goals of their patients and their families. In this way, nurses deliver on the goal of hospice—to ensure that patients live as comfortably as possible throughout the end of life process.
The nurses work with doctors and other hospice support to advocate the wellbeing of patients and may provide a variety of other services as needed, including:
- Managing pain and discomfort
- Monitoring vitals
- Caring for a patient in-home
- Helping patient families cope
- Providing emotional support
Why Are Hospice Nurses Important?
A hospice nurse can fill many important care roles within a hospice care program. In fact, from the early stages of hospice admissions to the final stages of a patient’s end-of-life journey, nurses apply their background and expertise across a range of vital hospice care services, including the following.
When potential patients look into receiving hospice care, nurses are often their first point of contact. ‘Admission nurses,’ as they are called, will assess patients to understand their needs and care-goals, and to determine if they are eligible for hospice care. Once admitted, nurses will assist hospice care teams in creating a care plan that aligns with the goals of the patient, while educating patients and their families so that they know what to expect moving forward.
Nurses also serve as case managers for hospice care organizations, where they oversee the coordination of a patient’s care. They also determine the appropriate levels and types of counseling that patients and their family members need to thrive. Working with other members of the hospice care team, a nurse will also work to ensure that resources and hospice care services are allocated to meet the needs and care plan of the patient.
When patients and caregivers have an at-home emergency, a nurse is generally the first person to assist. On-call nurses will assess the situation and the patient’s unique needs, determine if an immediate visit to their primary physician (or local emergency room) is needed, and administer care when necessary.
Hospice care nurses provide a variety of supplemental medical-related services, such as administering medications and ensuring proper documentation of all provided hospice care. They can also act as a liaison between hospitals to ensure that they advocate local hospice care services for their patients. In partnership with hospitals, nurses will also work with patients and their families through the process of enrolling in hospice care and assist them with hospice patient-on-boarding.
How Do Hospice Nurses Benefit Hospice Care Patients?
As hospice nurses spend most of their time working directly with patients and their families, they provide a variety of hands-on, direct-care services for patients. These services range from administering medication and documenting their vital signs to ensure that they are free of pain and discomfort, and that they receive the holistic care (emotional, psychosocial and spiritual support) that hospice is built on. Moreover, nurses will track your loved one’s state throughout their hospice care experience, and continually make recommendations to improve their quality of life through hospice care. Nurses are constantly advocating on behalf of their patients and their families, and will stop at nothing to ensure their complete comfort and satisfaction.
Speak To KidsCare Of The Rockies Today For More Information
From regularly caring for hospice patients and their family members, managing cases, providing on-call support and liaising with hospitals, the role of a hospice nurse is multivariate to say the least. The ability to handle these challenges, matched with their unparalleled education, training and expertise, make these nurses among the cornerstone members of the hospice care team when overseeing a patient’s progression and providing quality care.
Interested in learning more about the role of a hospice nurse? Contact KidsCare of the Rockies for more information about hospice nurses, and to find out how they can assist your child and family throughout the palliative care process.