May, 2017: The Role of Nurses in Hospice and Palliative Care

Whether in one of our residences, in the home or at an assisted living or healthcare facility, nurses are an invaluable part of the hospice and palliative care team. Hospice nurses are specially trained in various aspects of hospice care and care management, ensuring that pain and symptoms are controlled and that quality of life is optimized for all concerned.

Nurses trained in the practice of hospice and palliative care nursing have studied: pain and symptom management; end-stage disease processes; psychosocial, spiritual and culturally sensitive care of patients and their families; interdisciplinary collaborative practice; loss and grief issues; patient education and advocacy; bereavement care; ethical and legal considerations; communication skills; and awareness of community resources. 

With National Nurse Appreciation Week upon us (May 6-12), we are acknowledging all the nurses working in hospice and palliative care—and especially those who bring comfort and compassion to our patients in our residences and in the field.  Although nurses’ roles vary across facilities and practices, here are some ways in which hospice and palliative care nurses help anticipate and meet the needs of the patient and family facing terminal illness and bereavement.

Intake/Admission. Often the first hospice staff member to talk to and visit a patient, the intake or admission nurse explains the hospice philosophy to patients and their loved ones and develops a care plan. He or she assesses a patient's need and readiness for hospice and consults with the hospice physician regarding acceptance or admission into hospice care. This healthcare professional may also be the one to perform a complete assessment of the patient, order the medication and equipment the patient will need (based on the physician’s orders), and begin the process of patient and caregiver education with delicacy and compassion.

Case Manager. A case manager hospice nurse is a registered nurse (RN) who assesses and manages a patient's care. We assign one case manager nurse to each patient, which creates a more trusting relationship and allows for continuity of care. These frontline nurses have sharp patient assessment skills and work closely with the hospice physician.

Care Visits. A hospice visit nurse supplements the care provided by the nurse case managers. They may visit patients who have immediate needs when their case managers are not readily available, and may also be responsible for following up on routine care. At the Center for Hope, our nurses are available around the clock, ready to visit patients and families in need at any time, around the clock.

Whether at Father Hudson House or Peggy’s House, in the patient’s home or in a long-term care environment, the Center for Hope Hospice offers attentive, compassionate and sensitive nursing care through all stages of the patient’s journey. If you or your loved one is in need of hospice or palliative care, our nursing staff is ready to attend to your needs.

Frank Brady, the Center’s President, spoke to each of our nurses this week to say thank you.  “Nursing is viewed number one, nationwide, for honest and ethical work.  This does not come easily or by accident.  It comes from each nurse, each day, applying their intelligence, skill and compassion to each patient.  This is an amazing achievement and today, we stop to thank you for bringing this gift to the Center and our patients.”