How Are Hospice Caregivers Different From Other Nurses?

hospice caregiver with wingsIt’s hard to think about who will be the hospice caregiver for you or your loved ones if you are terminally ill at home or at a nursing facility. There is so much medical care that needs to be offered to patients as they near the end of their lives. This is where hospice nurses come in and it takes a special person to be a hospice nurse.  Hospice nurses are tasked with keeping patients comfortable, instead of providing treatments that extend their lives.

What does a hospice caregiver do?

Every hospice patient is given a lead hospice nurse.   These hospice nurses have an extremely direct, hands-on role in the hospice setting. They oversee the direction and coordination of care for a patient. They learn about the role family plays in caregiving, line that up with needs that still aren’t being met, and coordinate with physicians to help meet those needs. They regularly meet with the family, the patient, and caregivers to analyze changes in the care plan. They are there to ensure that the patient’s voice is heard, along with the voice of their family.

A large part of hospice nursing is helping a patient feel comfortable as they near the end of their life. These patients often aren’t receiving treatment to try and help them get better, but rather pain medication is given to help them feel comfortable. Hospice nurses are responsible for talking to patients to understand if they are in pain, helping administer medication, and documenting what symptoms and medication a patient has.

Non-medical care Hospice Nurses Provide 

Another role of any hospice nurse is to keep the patient and their family educated about what will happen. At end of life, the hospice nurse is responsible for helping family and caregivers handle crisis situations.  These nurses help prepare the family and patient for counseling, education, and services before, and even after the patient’s death.  Family members often appreciate transparency and want to be in control as much as possible. Hospice nurses can educate family members on the condition of the patient, on medications, comfort and pain, and offer that support that is crucial to helping them cope with a difficult situation.

Hospice care is complicated for the patient and family because they are dying. Mental, emotional, and social support is key during this time. Often hospice nurses become close to their patients and their families as they are with them during an extremely difficult time. It’s important for hospice nurses to be able to be professional while still offering that mental and social support to their patient and their family.

Beyond social and emotional support, many patients and their families seek spiritual support as death comes closer. Hospice nurses can offer help and kindness to patients and their families as they navigate thoughts of death and loss. Spirituality can often help hospice patients feel calm and relaxed about death, so hospice nurses can increase the peace and comfort a patient feels by offering spiritual support.

Hospice nurses are more than just another nurse to help.  At Angels Grace Hospice, our nurses are those people! It takes a special heart and person to be a hospice nurse and  to make sure this time of life is handled in the most respectful and peaceful way.

 

Angels Grace Hospice provides a customized care plan to meet the specific needs of patients.  We provide comfort care in your home, hospital, nursing home or assisted-living facility depending on your individual circumstances.  Contact us with any questions and for further assistance with your end of life care options.