Understanding the Role of a Hospice Nurse
From the early stages of the hospice admissions process until the final steps of a patient’s end-of-life journey, the skilled and compassionate impact of hospice nurses can be witnessed throughout our hospice organization.
Hospice nurses ensure the highest quality of care for patients
Hospice nurses are one of the cornerstone members of the hospice care team. By virtue of their frequent interaction with patients, family caregivers, and patient families — coupled with their years of specialized training — nurses are instrumental in the care team’s ability to track a patient’s progression and provide quality care.
The care needs of patients with terminal illnesses can change rapidly and dietary plans, prescribed medications, and care strategies must be ready to adapt in response. Nurses play a first-hand role in ensuring their patients are as pain-free and symptom-free as possible.
Through frequent visits, recording of vitals, talks with patients and caregivers, and by personally witnessing the progression of a patient’s symptoms, hospice nurses are at the forefront of communicating a patient’s changing care needs to the rest of the team. The hospice nurse submits recommendations and the latest information surrounding the patient’s condition at the interdisciplinary hospice team meetings.
Held at least once every 15 days, these interdisciplinary meetings have every member of a patient’s care team in attendance. During these meetings, each member of a patient’s care team shares any new information concerning the patient’s progression, discusses how to further improve the patient’s quality of life and comfort, and ensures that the care plan is in direct accord with the patient’s end-of-life care wishes.
Hospice nurses ensure their patients do not die alone
One of the guiding tenets of hospice is the belief that no one should die alone.
In alignment with this belief is the practice of ensuring that at least one member of a patient’s care team is present during the patient’s final hours.
Hospice nurses, typically accompanied by the patient’s chaplain, are the care team members most commonly present with patients during their death.
During these final hours, hospice nurses provide a loving, reassuring presence while providing comforting care that ensures the patient is as free from pain and discomfort as possible.