Hospice nurses are licensed nurses who are trained to provide end-of-life care to terminally ill patients as well as emotional support to the patient’s loved ones.
Since the patients are diagnosed with terminal diseases, the goal of a hospice nurse is not to offer complete recovery, but to ensure that the patients die peacefully and with integrity.
Most hospice nurses believe that they are “called” to care for the dying. This is why to succeed as a hospice nurse, what an RN needs is more than a license. He or she must be prepared to undergo additional training and should have the emotional stability to care for the dying.
If you think you have what it takes to be a hospice nurse, this simple guide should give you a glimpse of the roles and responsibilities waiting for you.
As a health care professional who handles critically ill patients, hospice nurses are required to develop keen observation skills. This will enable him/her to accurately assess patients and alert the physician or other members of the multidisciplinary team about any alarming changes.
Hospice nurses must also possess excellent communication skills to effectively collaborate with the caregivers, the patients, and the hospice physician. Hospice nurses may also function as a triage nurse who provides symptom management, assessment, as well as health education over the phone so clear communication is vital.
Caring for patients who are in the last stages of their lives can be emotionally and physically taxing for hospice nurses. For this reason, a qualified nurse must learn how to be sympathetic and resilient at the same time. Hospice nurse should know how to develop emotional stability in order to accept their patient’s death no matter how painful it is.
Hospice nurses work either independently or in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team. They are commonly found in nursing centers, private homes, and other hospice care facilities.
A hospice nurse may serve the role of a triage nurse, admission nurse, visit nurse or case manager.
The admission nurse is responsible for performing initial assessment and education before a patient is accepted into a hospice care facility. Triage nurse, on the other hand, provides caregiver support as well as basic symptom management over the phone and notifies the hospice physician or case manager when a patient is in need of a visit.
A hospice nurse case manager is assigned to one patient at a time and ensures that every patient receives quality end-of-life care. When the case manager is not available for patient visits, the visit nurse takes over to perform routine care procedures. These nurses are usually licensed practical nurses (LPNs) who supplements the care provided by hospice nurse case managers.
Hospice nurses ensure that even with a terminal disease, patients still have the integrity and the feeling that they’re still in control. A hospice nurse makes this possible by teaching patients how to control symptoms through the correct doses of the medications. They also teach the caregivers or loved ones on what to expect, ways to ease the patient’s suffering, and how to avoid burning out.
Due to the difficult nature of the work, most hospice nurses meet with the multidisciplinary team at least every 15 days not just to discuss how to make patient care more effective but to provide emotional support to each other.
Featured image courtesy of: www.hospicecoha.org